= Positioning

Branding, branding, branding. I have a love/hate relationship with this word. Technically branding refers to the practice of placing a hot iron in the shape of a symbol or character to the flesh of cattle. There were two reasons for doing this, one so ranchers could determine which cattle were theirs on a long cattle drive into town or stolen by cattle thieves and two, identify a specific cow that was sick  and would later need separated from the herd.

In marketing terms, branding is a common service that a firm or agency offers to its clients. However it is often not entirely understood by the organization requesting the service or the agency offering the solution.

Creating a brand should start with developing a unique selling position – something that will differentiate you from the competition. Without this, changing the colors in your logo, developing a new tagline or redesigning your logo entirely won’t make a bit of difference when it comes to separating you from the pack of competitive products or services.

Think of it like this:

Brand = Position + Logo (Visual Identity) + Brand Promise (Tag line the reinforces the benefit of your position) + Communication + Target Experience

Developing a position is expensive, takes time, and if it is done right will continue to pay your organization back for years and years to come. It may take time for your customer to associate you with the new position if you are re-inventing a brand that has some equity in it, but once they do, they will now see you as offering something beneficial and different than your competitors. Without a strong position you are just a “me too” contender and the only field of competition is now price.

So the next time you are talking to a marketing agency or brand agency and they mention branding, are they discussing marking the local herd, redoing your logo, or are they helping you establish a position that will leverage you to be seen as something beneficial over your competition?