National corporation or nonprofit, large company or mid-sized family business, significant budget or limited funds – marketing communications and branding are essential under all these circumstances. Having an effective marketing strategy that results in a well-recognized brand name provides a major edge for any entity in today’s increasingly congested marketplace. The company’s brand is not just the logo, which is a physical representation ( or symbol) of the organization, but in fact the brand is so much more. It is the sum of all the characteristics that define the organization.
To be clear, branding is most often defined briefly as the ‘practice of building a reputation that identifies and differentiates a product or service from competitors.’
So, when a company or a nonprofit has built a brand that represents them and all they stand for, it gives them the advantage of forming a bond with a targeted audience in the community. When new or potential customers or supporters hear the brand name, they make a decision about the organization. That is, they have a powerful emotional reaction that acts as a shortcut, encouraging action and compelling a decision.
Well known organizations with high profile brands like Disney, The Ritz Carlton, Coca Cola, Tylenol, Nike, Make-a-Wish, the Girl Scouts, Harvard University or McDonald’s all enjoy the power of their brand. They do not have to tell their story over and over again, they do not have to demonstrate their distinctive attributes, they do not need to remind customers of their value proposition, they do not have to put their mission on a billboard, nor do they have to work as hard to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of their select market as others must do.
That’s because their brand speaks on their behalf, reminding the community of all that they offer. Whether it is an extraordinary family vacation to the Magic Kingdom, a stubborn preference for a particular soft drink or even a special affinity for a charitable organization or school, the branding process has a major influence on the success of the organization.
An effective brand showcases the company’s personality, culture, commitment, values and attitude – combining them all together to efficiently establish the company in the marketplace while connecting the current and potential buyers to the company, making an impression and creating a powerful and positive reaction.
Effective branding is what drives a shopper’s decision to walk past Hydrox cookies on the grocer’s shelf, opting instead for Oreos; branding is what causes restaurant goers to ask for a “Coke” and refuse a “Pepsi”; and finally, branding is what causes new parents to consider a wide range of baby products, deciding on the classic No More Tears products that everyone grew up with at home. Those companies that want to make a name for themselves, that do not want to be swallowed up in a sea of entrepreneurs with no way to distinguish themselves, are using their acknowledged brand to tell their story while attracting and retaining good customers.