Misconceptions about Branding

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By Aschalew Tamiru

The term “Branding” is greatly misunderstood by the general public, business owners, and within the branding industry. Many professionals often misuse the word and therefore have created a broad misunderstanding of what a “brand” is and how “branding” is defined.
The gaps in their knowledge about branding prevent companies from fully appreciating the benefits branding can bring to their business. As most scholars agree these misunderstanding on branding is observed throughout the glob but the level of misunderstanding differ. Various reasons are forwarded from scholars for confusion on branding, youngness of the branding concept is among others.
In this article some of the most common misconceptions that hold people back from embracing the benefits of branding is discussed.
Branding is not only development of logo: it is customary to hear companies say “we need our companies branding done” and asking only for logo designing. So many companies claim that they create brands when all they do is generate logos, business cards or similar design items, so it’s hardly surprising that people are confused by this. In fact, logo design is just one of the many aspects that make up the branding process it’s important but only the tip of the iceberg. Even some designing companies in Addis Ababa, who only develop logos for companies, acclaim themselves as experts on branding and invite companies to let them develop their full-fledged branding guideline and strategies.
Branding is not just how things/Companies look: while the visual identity of a brand its overall aesthetic play key roles in effective branding, even the prettiest designs cannot undo the damage done by a bad customer experience or disorganized business. Branding goes beyond the visual identity and can aid a variety of other aspect of the organization-from management to communications.
Branding provides clarity and focus, but it cannot deliver if the other key ingredients of running a sustainable business such as excellent customer service is not there.
Branding is not the same as marketing: till very recently branding was taken as one aspect of marketing. The fact is the relationship between branding and marketing is interconnected, but compared to branding, marketing is providing more specific goals and measurable outcomes. While marketing is a more natural ally for branding, because it deals with nurturing relationships between brands and their audiences. Marketing communications play a key role in building brand recognition and their effectiveness is influenced by how well defined the brand identity is.
Branding is not similar with advertising: It’s not a baseless belief that branding is related to advertising. Historically, branding projects and tasks were handled by advertising agents and firms, but branding evolved since then. Nowadays branding requires specialist experts to create brands and this involves a different kind of process to advertising. While branding is a long-term work, whereas advertising is usually focused on short-term gains, such as increasing sales of a product in a given time period.
Branding is comprehensive and involves almost all areas of a business, but advertising emphasizes a specific aspect, such as the quality or price of the product. Advertising is the process of informing, persuading or reminding people to buy into the brand.
Branding is not only for big companies: as the most talked about brands tend to be large international corporations, it is no surprise that there exist a widely held view that branding is for big companies.
A more accurate analysis would be that big companies use good branding to grow and maintain their position in the market. The same branding principles apply to both big and small business; the only difference is that the complexity of managing a brand will grow with the size of the organization. A modest budget can do great things for even the smallest of businesses.
Branding adds value to businesses: when coming toface-to-face with the costs of a branding project, a valid question arises-what value does branding add to my business? Many people and companies including our country assume that without a clear and immediate financial return on investment, branding doesn’t provide real value to the company. They forget about the fact that a strong brand is an asset.
Branding adds values to the business by making it protectable through a visual identity system that can be trademarked /legally protected and registered brand/ and licensed. A well designed and developed brand can give a business vitality and make it more attractive to investors, partners and more appealing to new talents.
Branding affects sales: marketing activities are more focused on clearly defined issues and therefore deliver more specific results. For example, if a company want to sell 2,000 more items, it shall try a marketing or advertising push strategy first. If the company wants the people who bought those products to buy from the company again and not from a competitor, build brand loyalty. The direct impact of branding on sales performance is difficult to quantify, because branding reveals in intangible features such as increased trust, higher perceived quality and brand image.
Branding should not delay: including companies operating in well-developed countries, branding is sidelined for so many wrong reasons. When is the right time for companies to enlist the help of a branding specialist? Should they wait until they are successful or until things have started to go wrong? Branding should be there when companies hit the start button on their business, and then adapt to their needs and grow with their demands? In Ethiopia there are exemplary companies which have been working on branding from their

consumption to date. On the other hand, huge companies which have the capacity to compete in East Africa level give little emphasis to branding.
Branding is not obtained by trends:Directing through competition can be a daunting task and can trick the most focused business leader into pursuing approaches for their company’s branding because they are in fashion at the time.
Good branding is enduring – this is one of the guiding principles. Trends change but when a company creates their brand it should be founded on a forward-thinking vision and created following timeless design principles. Frequent changes would createinsecurity and confusion to the public.The most successful brands remain true to their core values and don’t change the central elements of their visual identity as the wind blows.
Branding is not a product to sell:many people would not say they view branding as a product to sell, yet there is a tendency for branding to be treated that way. The misconception is validated by many businesses claiming to offer branding for unfeasibly cheap prices, often combined with the promise of unrealistic amounts of amends. Not only does this undercut businesses that offer genuine expertise: it also projects an image that branding is just a product you can buy off-the-shelf, or subscribe to and never have to worry about again. Branding services should be tailored to your business’ needs and offer unique solutions to address your specific challenges.

Various articles and books written on branding are used as references.
AschalewTamiru, is Manager of Marketing Communication at Bank of Abyssiniaand holds MA in Marketing Management from Addis Ababa University. He can be reached by aschalewt21@gmail.com