The question "What is a brand?" is a deeper one than you might first think. Even marketing professionals don't necessarily have a good answer to that question, because brands are fluid, ever-changing things. Before you can understand what a brand is, you must first understand what a brand is not.
Not Just a Logo
Your brand is not your company logo, letterhead, slogan or mascot. Those things are an important part of branding, but they do not form your brand. Many companies make the mistake of investing huge amounts of money in having a "brand package" put together, but fail to accompany that brand package with some consistent marketing. A logo in isolation is meaningless. Your brand is what people think of when they see your logo.
Controlling Your Brand
Your brand is what consumers decide it should be. Brand owners have only a limited amount of control over how their brand evolves. You can decide where you will position yourself in the market, but you cannot completely control how people respond to your products and services. The best you can hope for is that your product will appeal to your target audience.
Some brands are known for good customer service, for high-quality products or for making consistently reliable products at an affordable price point. Some brands appeal to young people, others to older people. Sometimes, this appeal is a happy accident and on other occasions it is the result of years of research and hard work. Apple is a great example. They have achieved huge success by making products that have good build quality and are incredibly easy to use. Their "I'm a Mac / I'm a PC" marketing campaign went on to become a popular meme in the world of computing, and even today, several years after the campaign implored users to "Get a Mac", there is still a strong perception in the minds of the general public that Macs are easier to use than Windows PCs. Other operating systems, such as Ubuntu, have almost no brand recognition in the minds of average users.
Building a Brand
Building a brand is something that takes a lot of time and consistent, sustained marketing. The good news is that it's easier to build a brand on a local scale than it is to target a national audience. At Sussex Websites, we have a lot of experience in promoting local companies, and we have a good understanding of the Sussex markets. We can help you to get the right message to the right people and to monitor the way that your target audience responds to your messages.
Your brand is the most important property that you have as a business owner. You can re-launch products, or even repackage failed products to target different sections of your chosen market, but it is much more difficult to change the public's perception of your brand as a whole. For this reason, it is important to invest in your brand early on and nurture it consistently throughout the life of your business.