First of all, it is sensible to answer the question: “What is branding?”
“Branding is a disciplined process used to build awareness and extend customer loyalty. It requires a mandate from the to and readiness to invest in the future. Branding is about seizing every opportunity to express why people should choose one brand over another. A desire to lead, outpace the competition, and give employees the best tools to reach customers are the reasons why companies leverage branding.” – Alina Wheeler, brand consultant
I make the above quote in modern times to reinforce that it is not easy to define an ever-developing concept of a complicated business process in a few words. Branding has been evolved to a more comprehensive collective of marketing practices since 1981, in which Al Ries and Jack Trout’s “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” was published. At that time, Ries and Trout invented a new approach of communication called positioning. They referred to position a product, a piece of merchandise, a service, a company, an institution, or even a person in the mind of prospects. Although they had not literally mentioned a brand, they did have a branding concept behind. Also, positioning has been ever since a very important component of any branding or marketing system of ideas.
Defining generally, branding is a sequence of marketing practice of formulating a brand under which identifies and differentiates its product or service from competitors. Often when people refer to “branding”, they are talking about a limited amount of business activities to promote a brand, like logo design, packaging design, positioning (thank to Al Ries and Jack Trout), template design of advertising campaign, production of an official website, and a grand launching of the brand with a glamorous PR event. I am not surprised when clients are confused that they have accomplished branding their brand already by completing various design tasks and a launching event. I am not surprised because even some graphic designers, web developers or public relations agencies said they do “branding” when they actually execute tidbit of design or a event.
What is Holistic Branding?
The terminology “Holistic Branding” is lately raised to differentiate from conventional branding. We do not invent it. Holistic branding is an extensive and thorough approach of branding for a brand to win a dominant position in people’s mind. An interrelated scope of tangible and intangible practice are needed to formulate a brand in order to excel at such battle.
So, how holistic it is?
Directory of All Tasks in Holistic Branding
I have tried to enlist all tasks in holistic branding below as thorough as I can. And I categorize them into three main interrelated sections with subsections:
- Section 1: Brand Essence Buildup
Brand essence is the properties of components of the whole brand without which it would not be what it is. Those indispensable qualities of the brand determine its existence to people’s mind. This buildup is crucial. Any incompleteness disables a brand.
- Section 2: Branding Strategy
The full plan of policy, including an integrated marketing strategy, is formulated to achieve the ultimate aim of branding, i.e. to win a dominant position in people’s mind.
- Section 3: Brand Artifacts Creation
Brand artifacts are all man-made tangible deliverables of the brand inclusively and includes all sort of identities, touchpoints and guidelines of formulation. To create outstanding brand artifacts, you need a tactical branding strategy and an underlying brand essence.
The above infographic serves an overview to what fields of tasks in holistic branding are involved. Grouping colours used above and throughout show a similar characteristic in holistic branding, but not equivalent. Yet there is no such a possibility to complete the list especially in the section of strategy. As time flies, artificial intelligence may take over tasks; still tasks are there. There may be a time all retail outlets are replaced by online and deliveries are replaced by auto-flying-robot. We would then append a task of designing “robot” in the subsection of “touchpoints presence.”
Moreover, holistic branding must not be an one-off project. Holistic branding itself is a practice to build a brand and to sustain it with refinement of strategies during different stage of brand development. So any approach in holistic branding must be a recurring one. I will talk about our five-step recurring approach of holistic branding in the next post. Under each step, selective tasks are indexed. Hopefully, you will be more familiar with the whole process of holistic branding.
Property of Tasks in DNA of Holistic Branding
From the above directory of tasks, you can learn list of tangible and intangible tasks. Tangibleness is one of the property of a task. I refer to mainly three interrelated spheres that compose the wholeness of holistic branding: brand essentials, brand presence and branding strategy. Any two of the three spheres intercept into a second sector; subsequently there are another three intercepting sectors. “Management” regulates “Brand Essentials” as well as “Brand Presence”. “Engagement” is “Brand Presence” that reacts to “Branding Strategy”. “Sustainment” is “Branding Strategy” to protect “Brand Essentials”.
Role of Different Departments Inside An Organization
Another important aspect that you may want to know is how to allocate tasks to different departments within an organization. We have indexed selective tasks under seven departments – directorate, product development, retail (or operation), information technology, human resources, customer service, and sales & marketing department. Neither these departments nor tasks are inclusive. And the size of each “pie” does not represent the importance or size of the department. Besides, we have grouped the whole departmental tasks into three non-exlusive characteristics, namely design strategy, brand strategy and the strategic voice.
These tasks in holistic branding are often representing the same as in many text books. There may be slight variations. To be clear, we note down definition of tasks that we speak about.
- Brand Essence – the properties of components of the whole brand without which it would not be what it is. Those indispensable qualities of the brand determine its existence to people’s mind.
- Brand Essentials – a combination of brand essence of a brand and the brand essence of the organization governing the brand.
- Brand Vision – an aspirational idea stating a brand’s future where a clear direction is heading to.
- Brand Assets – a variety of core strengths that build the brand.
- Brand Philosophy – a distillated core value of a brand governing all aspects of an organization’s practices.
- Brand DNA – the fundamental and distinctive identity that defines a brand’s functioning and presence.
- Brand Targets – division of prospects by product or service hierarchy of a brand.
- Brand Story – more than a piece of narrative to tell people what the brand is, but what people believe about values of the brand based on the signals a brand story sends.
- Brand Culture – a culture in which staff of an organization believe in a brand’s values under which they solve problems and make decisions internally, and deliver a brand experience externally.
- Brand Persona – personality of a brand being perceived as a human being.
- Brand Aesthetic – a set of principle underlying artistic recognition and design charisma of a brand.
- Brand Positioning – a precised ideal position of a brand in the mind of prospects.
- Brand Voice – a fundamental document(s) that articulates clearly what the brand is and should be.
- Brand Experience – a memorable, distinctive experience of using service or product of a brand.
- Brand Perception – a perceived brand essence by customer through brand experience.
- Brand Differentiation – different brand positionings determining brand architecture of an organization.
- Brand Architecture – the structure of all brands within an organization which has planned ahead in way related to positioning and differentiation of brands.
- Brand Nomenclature – a planned methodology of naming brands under a brand architecture.
- Branding Audit – a dynamic data-gathering process to examine the market, the brand presence and competitors.
- Brand Companion – staff of an organization as well as alliance are secured to a partnership that shares the same aim of a brand, appreciates the same brand essence, and acts to maximise consequence.
- Brand Book – a printed booklet or electronic document that is compelled to encourage positive brand understanding.
- Brand Presence – collective tangible presenations of a brand.
- Brand Artifacts – man-made tangible deliverables of a brand inclusively that include all sort of identities, touchpoints and guidelines of formulation.
- Visual Identity – visual cue of association with a brand, for example, rainbow stripes of Paul Smith.
- Sonic Identity – sonic cue of association with a brand, for example, jingle of a TV commercial.
- Smell Identity – smelling cue of association with a brand, for example, fragrance of a high-style brand.
- Taste Identity – tasteable cue of association with a brand, for example, food flavour of of a cake shop.
- Touch Identity – feeling cue of association with a brand, for example, fabric texture of a pyjama brand.
- Touchpoint Presence – aggregate collection of point of contacts of a brand getting in touch with the public to increase awareness and build customer loyalty.
- Material Design – pre-fabricated design pieces used in most of the predictable situations in the future.
- Labeling Hierarchy – a systematic application of brand and visual identity to all products under a brand which has planned ahead in way related to product hierarchy.
- Above-The-Line – communication materials or marketing activities that are publicised branding messages in the mass media.
- Below-The-Line – communication materials or marketing activities that are conveyed branding messages by means such as direct mail, email, promotional events, online channel.
- Through-The-Line – communication materials or marketing activities that are organised as a branding campaign by all means.
- Mascot – a man-made character that is created for a brand to bring good fortune or a powerful association to the brand.
- Ephemera – collectable items, that are originally expected to have only short-term usefulness, are imprinted with brand identity yet obviously not a representative product of the brand.
Branding is undeniably a sequence of marketing practice of formulating a brand under which identifies and differentiates its product or service from competitors. Branding is a then-modern concept of marketing. After a decade of development, expertises have evolved into a more deeper belief. The extensive and thorough approach of branding for a brand to win a dominant position in people’s mind is named into a modernised terminology – Holistic Branding.
(In our next post “Five Recurring Steps of Holistic Branding : : Our Evolved Comprehensive Approach of Branding”, we will elaborate how we carry out…)
- “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” by Al Ries & Jack Trout (1981)
- “The New Positioning” by Jack Trout & Steve Rivkin (1995)
- “Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to the Human Spirit” by Philip Kotler (2010)
- “Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)” by William Poundstone (2011)