Branding: Where the Old West Meets Madison Avenue

Cowboy holding a dollar sign branding iron

The term “branding” now means the process of identifying and establishing a company’s persona, but back in the day, it meant applying a red-hot iron to a cow’s backside. The concept is really the same: ranchers branded cattle so people could immediately recognize whom they belonged to; companies brand themselves for pretty much the same reason. By imprinting your identity on everything associated with your company you are, effectively, “burning” the image of who you are into your customers’ brains.

How much money did McDonald’s have to spend before the entire world started to associate two yellow arches with a cheap but tasty hamburger? And how much value would you assign to an hourglass-shaped bottle which, even empty, calls forth the words “Coca Cola” instantly? Both symbols are brilliant examples of using branding as applied psychology.

You don’t have to spend billions to create a successful corporate identity, but you do have to invest significant thought in determining the image you want to convey. Most businesses never enjoy the kind of branding home run achieved by commercial icons such as Apple’s apple or Geico’s gecko, but just because your company image may never be recognized by millions doesn’t make it any less important. A well-defined brand — which might initially be proclaimed through a logo, mascot, mission statement or website — establishes who you are and what the world can expect from you. It gives your company credibility and focus and, once instituted, should be reinforced in every manifestation of your marketing message.

Think about what customers see when looking at the image branded onto your company’s hypothetical backside. Do they know instantly what products and services your business offers? Do they take away an impression of quality and reliability? If not, it may be time to make branding your top priority. Give us a call and we’ll be glad to share our expertise.

 

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