Branding is important to businesses big and small

Branding is an important aspect of marketing. Most of the time, branding is associated with larger companies that manufacture consumer goods. Recently, however, small organizations have become more concerned with what their own brands mean in the market.

The brand is the promise the organization makes to its customer. It tells the customer what to expect from the products and services. Organizations use branding to differentiate their offerings from the competition. The brand states what the company is, what it wants to be and what customers perceive it to be.

Most consumers think of the brand as the logo, but it also includes the website, packaging and promotional materials. Consumers can notice all the elements associated with an organization and its products. These all contribute to the brand.

Often, a brand identity is clearly linked with the manufacturer of the product. This is a manufacturer’s or national brand. Marketers will select this approach when the firm has a well-known, positive image.

Some products, especially if they are not well-differentiated in the marketplace, benefit by being associated with the store where they are sold. For example, major supermarket chains may offer their own private-label brands of staple products such as frozen pizza and salad dressing. Store brands account for an average of 14.5 percent of retails sales in the U.S., with some stores projecting they will soon reach as high as 20 percent of all sales.

Local brands are making inroads in many markets. Many consumers try to buy local products and services and enjoy the unique aspects that differentiate local products from the big national brands.

Tiffin’s Ballreich’s Potato Chips is an example of a local brand. Ballreich’s boast nostalgia and outstanding quality, according to Haley Thomas, the company’s director of sales and marketing.

“When you bite into a Ballreich’s chip, you’ll likely take a trip down memory lane remembering every picnic, beach day and barbecue with your family, friends and favorite chips. For those who haven’t yet developed those nostalgic ties, our outstanding quality hooks you on the first bite — and your memories begin,” according to Thomas.

Dress codes are another way companies can reinforce their brands. This can be especially important for retailers that need to let customers know who can help them.

“Your employees’ appearance plays a big role in your business brand. Employees are the ‘face’ of your business for your customers, so it’s important their attire reflects and enhances your brand,” according to media consultant Rieva Lesonsky.

Social media is playing an increasingly more important part of creating the brand for all sizes of business. What consumers say about a company’s products on blogs and other social media sites can influence how consumers see a product and company. Marketers are spending time reacting to the comments posted by consumers about their products.

Personal branding is a concept that applies to everyone. Personal branding is people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. Whether is it done intentionally or by accident, nowadays everyone has created a personal brand for him or herself.

The social media website LinkedIn was created to help people form their personal brands. It is designed to allow individuals to create and share professional information. LinkedIn has about 500 million members in 200 countries. It allows participants to create profiles and connections to others in an online social network that often lead to real-world professional relationships.

At both the organizational and personal level, brands are important and shape others’ perceptions.

“Above all else, we want our consumers to feel good about purchasing our product,” Thomas said.

Perry Haan is professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at Tiffin University. He can be reached at (419) 618-2867.