... where visionaries, game changers, and challengers discuss business models
In the more technical sense, your brand is simply the name under which your goods and services are sold. Clearly, though, when you take a look at Nike, Coke and even Apple or Facebook, you realize that a brand represents much more than a mere name and logo.
When you start talking about concepts like brand awareness and brand equity, you really come close to the de facto or actual definition of a brand.
Simply put, a brand is the general public's perception of your goods, services and overall business. That's why big companies usually call to mind an entire galaxy of feelings, memories and preferences.
Now, there's a positive and a negative to the fact behind brand building. First the position: once your brand is established, it's fairly well-etched into the minds, hearts and lives of the customers you're hoping to interact with on a daily basis.
The downside to brand building, though, is that it can take months or years of dedicated branding to get there.
If you pressed most people to come up with their top-ten favorite brands they would probably mention Coke, Disney and perhaps a newer company like Apple.
Chances are that any other brand they would mention would also have both a real-world presence and a digital one. In short, great brands are everyone and partly great by virtue of being everywhere.
Marketers talk about branding in terms of depth and breadth, so to speak, when they talk about brand power versus brand reach.
The former—brand power—is the extent to which customers prefer your brand over the competition's whereas brand reach refers to how well all possible customers (i.e., close to everybody on Earth) is familiar with your brand.
Inbound marketing is one of those gifts that keeps on giving to the degree that once you understand the principles on which inbound marketing draws in more views, likes and retweets you have it made.
Promoting your company through blogs, search engine optimization and social media, inbound marketing essentially attracts customers more efficiently by providing them with timely, relevant content designed to move them along the purchase funnel.
Potentially customers transition from being totally unaware of your brand (first stage) to purchasing from your company and ultimately becoming a loyal customer.
The thing to bear in mind with inbound marketing is that it need not cost a lot of money—in addition to paid media like pay-per-click advertising there's your proprietary owned media (e.g., your website and blog) and earned media, such as the brand-spreading attention you get when you drum up support on social media or earn subscribers to your email newsletter.
Of course, unless your products and services are displayed and curated entirely online, you're going to need environmental, real-world signage to get your message across and increase your brand awareness.
In terms of brand awareness, bear in mind that a staggering 89% of customers who received a promotional product subsequently recalled the advertiser's name.
Sign franchises are also operating in a multi-billion dollar industry because of the 28 million U.S. small businesses and over half-million franchises still require signs, posters and print marketing collateral (e.g., brochures) to spread their brand in the real world.
Believe it or not, but your website's responsiveness to major search engines like Google and ability to automatically re/format across a host of mobile devices (e.g., Smartphones and tablets) has a lot to do with your brand's success in the 21st century. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are Smartphone-equipped.
That said, using real-world posters and displays in conjunction with print marketing collateral, promotional products and bridging inbound with outboard marketing is the most comprehensive approach to building your brand into something truly formidable.