Importance of brand recognition

Many business owners think that salesmanship and marketing are enough to succeed in business. Bzzzt! Wrong answer! There's another level to which all businesses should aspire: Creating a brand.

Branding is not marketing. Rather it is an integral part of your marketing strategy. It's also an important part of how you interact with clients, prospects, vendors, employees, and anyone else with whom you come in contact. Branding creates an image.

Proper branding creates loyalty. For example, what soda do you drink? What supermarket do you use? What's your favorite brand of gasoline? Take this exercise a step further. What image comes to mind when you think of the Sears? Neiman Marcus? Wal-Mart? Chances are that, unless you've had a bad experience at one of these stores, your perception is a result of branding strategy.

There are said to be 5 levels of brand recognition:

Brand rejection
If someone associates your brand with something negative, they will purposely avoid your product. Have you ever experienced bad service somewhere and swore you’d never return to that chain? Have any of your customers said that about your business? Create a logo and slogan that is filled with great benefits to your customer and put that on everything. If public opinion is turning against you or your product, launch a campaign to alter it.
Brand non-recognition
This is where your customers simply don’t recognize your brand… probably because it is not clearly differentiated from competitors. Boldly state your product or service’s benefits. Always include the full trademark name whenever you refer to your product. Be willing to create brand names for your products or services, just like you’ve done for your own business. Find the differences in value between your product and your competitors and highlight that difference mercilessly.
Brand recognition
This is a good stage to aim for if you don’t have any recognition at all. Brand recognition will help people lean toward your product when given the choice between your product and one they have never heard of. At the same time, though remember that your competitors are also working on brand recognition, which means their brand could be more recognizable. Continue to differentiate yourself and be sure to add value to your product in order to get to the next stage.
Brand preference
This is where customers – given a choice between two brands – will choose yours over someone else’s. It often is the result of a sense of differentiation and that your product or service uniquely serves their needs. As well, you can be sure that any value-added products or services you include help them to choose yours over your competitors. Even though this is a great stage to be in, it’s not the final stage. The stage you absolutely want to be in with your brand is…
Brand loyalty
This is where customers will choose your brand time and time again, even if they experience the occasional poor service or if another product comes along that seems to be better suited to their needs. To achieve brand loyalty, you need to provide a product that is highly differentiated, with plenty of value added, but also you need to offer them remarkable service at a level they will not get anywhere else. Providing this level of service will ensure that they will never switch.

How To Create An Effective Brand Name

One thing you'll notice about many of the most widely known brands is that they're simple and easily remembered, often consisting of just a three-letter acronym such as: IBM, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, BBC, etc.

Others are equally as memorable because they use words we already know such as: Apple, Windows, Brother, Cannon, etc.

However, there are also many more obscure or made-up words used to create brand names. Words such as: Xerox, Compaq, eBay, Yahoo, etc.

This shows that, when it comes to branding, "it ain't what you got, it's the way that you use it" that matters. 

The Logo

Just like brand names, the most effective brands have very simple, easily identified logos. A simple rule of thumb is that if you can't look at a logo for just 10 seconds then draw it with pen and paper -- it's too complex. Good examples of simple but very effective logos are those used by Mercedes, McDonalds, and the Yellow Pages.

If people can't remember what your logo looks like, they won't recognize it and they won't remember your brand. In its simplest form, your logo can simply be the brand-name itself, usually rendered in a tasteful font using contrasting colors.

And don't underestimate the importance of colors -- some companies have even trademarked the colors they're using as part of their branding!

IBM isn't called "Big Blue" for nothing -- and surely you've heard of "The Golden Arches" that identify McDonalds?

In fact, the whole process of designing the shape and color-scheme for a logo can be so critical that you might want to fork out good money to pay an expert to do the job. 

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