What is a brand?
This is a very interesting topic where many people recognise the importance of a "brand" but do not agree on its definition. It is fair to say that it symbolises the important role that brands play and the depth of their importance.
#1 Brands are the foundation for growing profits
A brand can increase sales and reduce costs. This includes the ability to sell at premium prices, increased sales due to increased word of mouth and differentiation, better talent attraction and productivity, increased retention, lower recruitment costs and lower customer acquisition costs. The impact of a brand is not limited to the company itself, but also extends to external parties such as good shareholders and investors, making it an asset for long-term growth.
#2 A brand is meaning
A brand is not just a luxury fashion brand like CHANEL or a cool logo. In fact, there is a deeper "meaning" behind the glamour.
Two examples of brand meaning are MUJI's brand purpose of "The universal pursuit of a life that brings a pleasure for both the planet and ourselves", and TESLA's brand purpose of "Accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy with generation, storage and transport".
The meaning that people resonate with becomes affiliation and aspiration as if it were their own person, so they invest time and money in it. The meaning is the "reason" why people choose a brand.
A brand is surrounded by a "community" of consumers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders who share the same meaning, and the brand grows there.
#3 Brands exist in people's heads and hearts
A brand is made up of the accumulation of its pragmatic and emotional experiences. For example, the ultimate distraction (functional associations) and sense of accomplishment (emotional associations) are stored in people's minds and hearts every time they play with a PlayStation; convenience (functional associations) and trust (emotional associations) are stored in people's minds and hearts when the JR train runs on time.
Therefore, it is effective to create a brand message with both a logical scientific left-brain approach and a creative right-brain approach that appeals to the emotions and conveys the brand's personality and views along with its products and services.
A brand grows together with the brand associations being created in the minds of various people and can take unexpected directions for the brand creator. The brand creator has a role to play in guiding the brand, not controlling it.
#4 Conditions for a strong brand
In addition to the aforementioned "meaning", strong brands often fulfil five other requirements, namely charisma, idols, stories, rituals and places of interaction, and are consistent in these.
Taking Apple as an example, the charisma is, of course, Steve Jobs, the idol is the apple logo, the story is the new product information that is kept secret until the last minute, the ritual is the long queue for the iPhone, and the place of interaction is the Apple Store. These form a consistent brand image of Apple of innovation and coolness.
You can see why advertising alone is not enough to create a distinctive brand.
#5 Branding is an activity that unites the brand, the business and the organisation
As it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate goods and services, the expectations of brands are rising and stakeholders are increasingly looking at the impact that brands can bring. Branding is the process of integrating the meaning of the brand, the business and the organisation in order to create and maintain a distinctive brand.
It can be said that branding is the process of making invisible meanings visible to create a better life, society and world.
#6 Branding can be applied to organisations, places and people
Branding approaches and perspectives can be applied not only to companies in general, but also to governments, local authorities, educational institutions, tourist destinations, celebrities and many other targets.
The meaning of a brand, i.e., its purpose and personality, can be identified and then turned into reality by creating a sense of unity between internal and external stakeholders. Once people have developed a sense of empathy, affiliation and aspiration for the brand, the object of the branding becomes as indispensable as air.
Take TOYOTA, for example. If they continue to work together with their stakeholders to provide a means of transportation and mobility that has never existed before, based on their brand purpose of "leading the future mobility society", they will be able to achieve the goal of "enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people." And, if they continue to live the brand, the TOYOTA brand will become an indispensable part of people's lives.
We hope that by sharing our brand definition with you we will have more opportunities to contribute to the development and growth of businesses and organisations through branding methods.