What is a brand? Brands are customers’ perceptions formed when they use, experience, and interact with the product or services.
The stage of digital marketers and digital marketing pursuers is gone. We now live in a time when the comparison between Branding and Marketing has become more balanced than ever. The days when the phrase “running ads” became the lifeline of every business model are no longer popular; many businesses do not consider burning money on marketing campaigns inevitable.
Instead, awareness of the importance of building and developing brand competence has become more apparent. A professional, reputable, and compelling brand image is the destination of thousands of businesses.
However, the change took place too quickly – from racing to burn money on marketing campaigns to investing in building an organized brand, which also entails many consequences. Many young businesses start building brands without a foundation, while many large enterprises in the market make mistakes in brand positioning. This situation wastes money, time, and resources on inappropriate goals and visions.
Vu Digital has had the opportunity to connect with many corporates. Our clients range from young entrepreneurs with limited resources to long-existence companies with strong positions and generous financial capacity. But in general, most do not think properly about brand concepts.
Some think a brand is just a name, and others equate a brand with a product brand. The product brand is only a small item in the value chain that the brand brings up, and it is just a minor factor in creating a complete brand identity. In particular, some assert that building a brand is not difficult because having a “beautiful logo design is enough.”
Not stopping at the position of a team of branding consultants and support, but further developing to become a team that constantly shares brand knowledge for free.
The philosophy toward efficiency improves economic conditions and people’s quality of life by contributing to the successful building of many Vietnamese brands. Vu’s team wants to share the article on the topic: What is a brand and the five values of a brand for every business model?
What is a brand? Do you misunderstand the concept of a brand?
After much discussion, analysis, and even contradictions about how to shape the brand concept, Vu’s team has concluded that brands are not tangible things. Or, to be more specific, brands do not exist in physical form.
On the contrary, a brand is formed and constantly strengthened based on consumers’ trust. The belief is that this brand always creates quality products, and the impression is that the brand always understands and tries to solve the problems of potential customers. They are brands.
Without brands in our world, Apple is just an apple, Visa is just a passport that takes you around the world, and Christian Dior is forever a designer’s name.
If the brand does not exist alongside the products or services the business provides, consumers will have no basis to believe they are spending money wisely. Or they would ask whether I am right when paying to this business when their motivation is just profit.
Based on beliefs, consumers’ attitudes and spending habits gradually turn into positive perceptions. Because trust only comes from their basic needs, each customer will become a loyal customer progressively. They would be willing to “gossip,” advertise for free and actively attract anyone around to become a customer, just like them.
Buddhist culture has always conveyed a thesis; if you are nothing, you can become everything. If a brand is nothing in itself, a brand can be anything. Not limited to the name, label, or logo design, a brand can be anything that impacts consumer perception, this is the answer to the question “What is a brand?”
For example, think about the image of a man wearing a black turtleneck and walking around on the stage. He is the man who mesmerizes audiences whenever he talks, and you know that man is no other than the legendary Steve Jobs – founder of Apple.
Another one. This brand has always been at the forefront, ready to pioneer every revolution regarding the latest trends, free a woman from the suffocating corset, and smash the public opinion that black clothes are only suitable for servants or funerals. What is it? I’m sure you might think of Chanel immediately.
As you can see, a brand can be anything, and it is a brand as long as it impacts your understanding, psychology, or perception. The brand can come from a catchy tune like the ringtone of iPhones or an unmistakable scent like Chanel No.5.
Because of the above analysis and brand evidence, Vu believes it is time for us to change our thoughts and perceptions of the brand concept. When anyone asks the question “what is a brand,” you can boldly and confidently answer that: Brand is a positive perception from consumers.
How do we have a positive perception from consumers?
A brand is a perception, but it cannot survive and develop sustainably if it only creates negative perceptions. Take the example of Vietnamese famous yelling restaurants. At these restaurants, customers voluntarily lower their benefits, even tolerating being yelled at just for a good meal. Of course, “good” is considered with personal tastes.
Every restaurant must pursue the only path to make good meals at reasonable prices. However, customer service and communication manners are choices.
Every restaurant has the same right to choose the way to communicate, manners, and customer service attitude. Though, many shops are ready to criticize and be harsh with the ones who bring their primary source of income, only for being famous rapidly and attracting the media.
These tactics will only create negative perceptions among consumers. And one thing we can be sure of: negative perceptions do not lead to solid, reputable, and competitive brands. A conspicuous characteristic of these “brands” is that they do not immediately collapse but, on the other hand, cannot grow for a long time.
Easy come, easy to go, and that is how customers treat those brands. So, how do we get a positive perception from consumers or target customers?
Emotional brand awareness
Sensory and cognitive perception is needed to build positive brand awareness. Sensory perception is when consumers are persuaded by external appearance or feeling. Brands get to this point by guessing correctly and exploiting shoppers’ emotions.
In contrast, cognitive perception is when customers have enough time to experience products and give the fairest evaluation. At this stage, emotional factors do not influence or deceive them easily.
Having re-integrated with the world economy in less than half a century and the mindset rooted in the brutal war days, it is not easy for many generations of Vietnamese entrepreneurs to get out of the “riche mindset.” This mindset pushes many leaders to pursue revenue, profit, and inanimate numbers while forgetting to invest in brand image, assets, and heritage.
This attitude leads to the thought that spending money to build image, value, and brand awareness is a waste. Many business leaders have chosen to take shortcuts by following the path of emotional brand awareness. They attract target customers with charming advertisements and illusory promises that do not match the capacity and resources of the team.
The emotional factors that create brand awareness are not harmful, and the mistake lies in the purpose of many brand teams. Many influential global brands still skillfully combine emotional with rational perception, user experience, and the features of products with powerful slogans.
If you wonder, “I never see big brands doing advertising.”, unfortunately, there are two reasons. First, you are not the target customer of big brands, and the other is that you are still not the target customer of big brands, but again.
If you trust both groups of factors, the answer to why the harmonious combination of emotion and reason will bring positive effects is below.
Rational brand awareness
We can compare the emotional factors with the group of rational factors, like two people in a relationship. Emotional aspects are when the couple comes together by appearance, with sweet loving words. In contrast, practical aspects are the times they spend with each other when the nature and character of the two people seem to reflect more strongly. Like a product, you can only evaluate its quality and value after experiencing it.
Present Apple CEO Tim Cook once commented:
A cheap product might sell some units. Somebody gets it home and feels great when they pay the money, but then they get it home and use it, and the joy is gone.
This statement represents the importance of the rational cognitive group. From Steve Jobs to Tim Cook, the two CEOs of Apple are the ones who evaluate business performance by looking at what happens behind the counter. However, those positive developments come from smooth sensory and cognitive perception coordination.
Apple doesn’t go on a tightrope like brands that provide Android products but make their hardware and software products. Apple’s operating system is closed and is not unlocked even when the FBI sends a request to help one investigation. Tim Cook knows that compromising with law enforcement is a synonym for setting a bad precedent that could affect customers in the future.
Another example is the Apple of the car industry: Tesla. Under the management of Elon Musk, Tesla is essentially a car brand that is not similar to any other car brand on the market. Even Tesla’s cars radically differ from the rest of the electric car world.
Instead of driving a streamlined computer and putting it on wheels, the Tesla experience gives you the feeling you’re going through a multi-computer system.
Regarding electric car markets, it is clear that Tesla is still “the only horse in the race” without any competition. At least until other brands like BMW, Audi, or Mercedes Benz give up on fossil energy.
So what role do the emotional factors play in the brand strategy of Apple, Tesla, and many other famous brands of the world? Unlike companies that only run after sales and profits, brands that harmoniously combine emotion and reason are all that keep their promises and stick to the culture and long-term vision of the brand.
Apple once created a craze for the technology world with the slogan “Think Different,” and indeed, Apple itself thought differently. They make different products, their teams think differently, and even loyal Apple customers are “different” ones.
Products from Apple are famous for their security and customer experience optimization. They successfully provided an easy-to-use interface and a smooth operating system created by self-containment. Furthermore, the tactics used to keep users who accept to stay with the ecosystem are also a classic success, even though many products have outstanding designs and functions.
Tesla claims its vision is to speed up the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Tesla doesn’t completely open up its “recipes” regarding engineering or technology. Still, neither is the American brand so stingy and selfish to keep them as its competitive advantage.
Tesla is willing to cooperate and share technology with any other brand as long as the partners have the same vision and direction as Tesla. They motivate brands to accelerate the world’s energy transition.
According to Interbrand, Tesla is the fastest-growing car brand in the world in 2021 – reaching 184% compared to 2020. It is also the fastest growing value brand globally, climbing up 24 positions on the most valuable brands worldwide ranking.
Back to Apple, Tim Cook himself is proving his wisdom and foresight. For years, he has struggled to transform Apple from a technology company selling hardware & software products to a company specializing in delivering services.
The results have come. According to Brand Finance, Apple’s current brand value is about $ 355.1 billion—allowing it to become the most valuable brand in the world, more than 5 billion dollars ahead of the following brand.
Apple is also gradually proving its influence in the service market. Shortly, Apple is preparing to launch both iPhone and iPad rental services. It is a wise move of the US technology giant because from now on, Apple users and their iFan will face more and more “difficulties” – if they want to “escape” from the Apple ecosystem.
Five essential elements to create a strong brand
We have already noted that a brand is consumers’ perception. Furthermore, we must create brands from positive perceptions, not vice versa. Since negative perception does not help you win the hearts of all potential customers, nor keep them staying with your brand.
And once we define a brand as perception, it’s clear that a brand can be anything. As long as it is strong enough to attract the perception of the target customer, those are the elements that make a strong brand. Here, Vu Digital wants to share the five essential elements to create a strong brand.
A brand is not simply a name; however, the title should be the first element that comes to mind before going deeper. The brand name not only plays the role of making a name but also clearly shows every brand’s culture and unique personality.
For example, for a brand that is approachable, fun, and aimed at young target customers, its name must express those orientations. In contrast, a financial brand, real estate, or investment model aimed at stable-financial customers will need a name that shows its vision and values.
The brand name that wants to create impressions, and express the brand identity, must be easy to read, remember and pronounce. Avoid those words with too many syllables unless you have an imposing name – like the Wall Street Journal or Southwest Airlines.
Many global brands have short, easy-to-remember, and pronounceable names. We can even pronounce those names in many different languages, such as Pepsi, Visa, Tesla, Zara, etc.
Many people assume the following element must be the logo design. Not yet, since we still have to mention the brand identity. Business leaders always emphasize the importance of a brand name or logo design, but they forget that the brand identity is the foundation of those significant results.
Numerous branding teams or design agencies have not invested resources and willingness in their outcomes. They usually skip the identity creation and get right into the creative phase.
When the brand identity is incomplete, brand culture, value, personality, and even positioning are nothing. All of these reduce the design elements’ effectiveness and the competitive advantages in the market.
Brand identity includes the following categories: brand vision, brand mission, brand promise, brand identity, brand tone, etc. Each type is an essential representation of the brand identity in terms of language, image, and value system.
A logo is a vital identification signal in every brand identity product. It represents the brand in terms of image and conveys the brand’s personality, culture, and core values on behalf of business leaders.
Logo design is the first step in the image-building process, and as mentioned, brand identity strongly influences the brand logo. The brand logo also requires understanding between the design and business leadership teams. Founders understand their brand identity best, but conveying and applying that identity in logo design is a creative story.
At Vu Digital, the design team has created a 7-step logo design process, including:
- Understanding and empathizing
- Market research and evaluation
- Picking a logo design technique
- Create emotional circuits and put ideas on the page
- Turn ideas into digital design products
- Applying visual principles
- Finalize and hand over the final design product
Of course, we do not claim our process is perfect or declare that you need to follow the same path as we do. We mean that our team can minimize unnecessary errors by following that design process so that we can bring the highest efficiency in terms of aesthetics and practical application.
The corporate identity includes logo design and media publications. Still, it is also the basis for the brand to propose value and, at the same time, communicate that value chain to customers.
One person can expose to thousands of advertising messages daily. It takes less than 7 seconds for a brand to win attention or leave an impression in the viewer’s mind. The corporate identity can help ensure and maintain the brand’s consistency in terms of the image to promote a professional and practical idea to millions of potential customers.
Millward Brown – Founder of design agency Kantar, pointed out that the identity suite contains many value propositions that bring growth up to 126%. In comparison, designs that ignore the value proposition only hit the 27% mark. That’s why we must distinguish between effective brand identity and truly successful brand identity.
Corporate identity does not have to be too monumental or detailed. Effective corporate identity helps the brand spread the message to the right people with words, patterns, and design. It is furthermore a value proposition that aligns with resources while attracting consumer vision, emotion, and trust.
Brand architecture is a plan to organize a brand for expansion and multi-industry development in the future. It is not only big brands with a strong position in the market that need to build architecture. Any brand, big or small, must be ready to create a brand architecture in advance.
Brand architecture is essential to the basic branding process and necessary to brand strategy. The architecture guides and prescribes how a brand chooses to acquire a parent brand, manage sub-brands, and build connections between them to ensure sustainable development.
Leaders should also offload the original brands to minimize risks amid a competitive market when they reach a particular position. When the original brand or one of the sub-brands gets into trouble, at least the remaining brands involved are still in control.
Additionally, brand architecture helps businesses approach and attract many new potential customers. Brand strategies will differ from the original vision, product orientation, and brand positioning to attract new customers. In this case, sub-brands would play the role of market exploration or even directly occupy more market share.
We can communicate the sub-brands as parts of the original brand, depending on the roles the team wants to “assign” to these brands. The parent and sub-brands do not always appear simultaneously and complement each other’s values.
Take a look at P&G group, which famously provides high-class family products. Their customers are families with certain financial conditions and consumption capacity. Acknowledging that the Tide brand was not enough to meet its market share ambitions, P&G created another detergent brand called Ariel.
Ariel is a low-cost product, and its orientation & positioning are entirely different from Tide. Even P&G intentionally created an “underground war” of these two products on supermarket shelves and in media campaigns to stimulate demand and improve sales.
Some famous brand architecture models include:
- Branded House Architecture
- House of Brand Architecture
- Endorsed Architecture
- Hybrid Architecture
We hope that you have an answer to the question ‘what is a brand” and clearly understand the elements that make a strong brand for a business model.
With the vision of growing the national economy and the quality of life of the people through successfully building Vietnamese brands, we are proud and excited since the knowledge we share is strongly supported.
That is our motivation to put more effort and passion into projects to promote the competitiveness of many Vietnamese brands. Since then, we could develop the team’s capacity, and the economy’s potential and directly contribute to improving each citizen’s life quality
To understand the world of branding and strengthen your knowledge of brand & brand design, you can connect with Vu through the links below:
- Website: https://vudigital.co/
- Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/vudigital.co
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vu.digital/
- Podcast: Podcast Quyền Vũ
- Behance: https://www.behance.net/vu-digital
- LinkedIn: https://vn.linkedin.com/in/vudigital
What is a brand?
Brands are customers’ perceptions formed when they use, experience, and interact with the product or services.
What is brand equity?
Brand equity is a set of solutions to improve business performance by increasing customer brand awareness.
What is brand strategies?
Brand strategy is a group of solutions, guidelines, and plans to affirm the brand's unique position in customers' minds but still not far from the available resources of the business.
What is branding?
"Brand" is the positive perception from consumers, and "Branding" is each specific action on the business's part to achieve those positive perceptions.
What is brand attributes?
Brand attributes are a brand's distinctive characteristics, which help distinguish between different brands in the market.