Ten questions – and answers – about branding, by Glion student ambassador Paula Belker

One of the benefits of being a Glion Student Ambassador is the opportunity to choose a skills-boosting specialization to explore in depth. Paula Belker chose Marketing, and here she shares with us some of the things she learned about the vital component of marketing which is branding…

Q: How is the term ‘brand’ defined?

A: The term is often wrongly thought of as being about the company’s logo etc. This is just the visual identity. The brand is the promise made to the customer – it’s defined by the emotions it evokes among current and prospective customers.

Q: What can be branded?

A: Products, services, special features… or even a whole company.

Q: Why are brands important?

A: Creativity and innovation guru Drew Boyd says, “Brands can be the single most valuable asset a company owns.”

Why? Because they help to: build customer loyalty; Increase value; enable higher prices to be charged; positively affect market share; facilitate the launch of new products; reduce employee turnover; and boost talent recruitment.

Q: Why should students learn about branding?

A: Branding plays a pivotal role in a business’s success. It is so much more than creating a flashy logo – a brand represents a company and its values.

Q: What is the process of creating a brand?

A: These five steps offer a good summary:

Step 1: Define the brand and its core values
Step 2: Position the brand in the market
Step 3: Express the brand: creation of logos and product names
Step 4: Raise awareness of your brand
Step 5: Measure the brand: focus on brand value and performance

Q: Once you have created a brand, how do you manage it?

A: Key to this is marketing reputation management. This is about controlling and monitoring a brand’s reputation through tracking what the customer base says about the company. The goal is to maintain a positive brand image.

Q: Why is it important to manage a brand’s reputation?

A: Forbes Magazine states that one negative online article about a brand can lead to 22% loss in business. Every customer interaction directly affects brand reputation. Online reviews are also crucial – one bad review leads to an amplification of negative reviews and the brand image suffers.

Q: What are some effective reputation management strategies?

A: Here are a few:

  • Businesses should allocate 20-30mins per day for marketing reputation management
  • There are several tools that help in monitoring brand reputation – e.g. Google Analytics: tracks brand mentions based on keywords linked to the brand
  • Customers can be encouraged to leave reviews through giving incentives
  • Feature positive reviews on other platforms
  • Immediately address relevant negative reviews

Q: How can you address criticism?

A: Four potential ways are:

  • Encourage transparency from your customers and employees; and be transparent yourself
  • Show that you genuinely care about your customers’ opinions
  • Establish trust in your brand
  • Adapt to your customers’ needs and wants, to show that you care

Q: How do you succeed in branding in the long term?

A: You have to have a solid marketing strategy before you are able to create a solid branding strategy. The most common branding mistake: just attach a brand to any product. Instead, you must follow a step-by-step process, using the right tools, in order to manage a brand successfully.
When managing the brand, it is important to measure the brand’s performance and its value to customers. This will give you meaningful insights into how to improve your branding strategy. So try to measure:

  • Customer awareness of the brand
  • Customer understanding of the brand values
  • Customer retention rates