The Hidden Cost of Branding

What the Internet has accomplished is the ability for marketers, large and small, to get their brands in front of the public. So, whether it is recognized or not, this has increased the need for effective branding.

What is Branding?

While you can find different definitions, for the sake of this discussion, I will simplify it to say branding is the package of elements to represent a particular product or service to consumers in the marketplace. If done effectively, the branding will be so unique that consumers will identify the brand and not confuse it for another. Proper branding will be achieved in advertising, logo, content, online, font, brand voice, elevator pitch and much more.

While large brands with equally large budgets spend millions of dollars developing and protecting their brands, it is equally important to small brands too. Because it’s so easy to get a message in front of the public today, I believe branding is important than it ever has been. Branding works because it establishes and reinforces what your brand represents. The more time it gets in front of your audience, the higher the probability your brand will be remembered.

The hidden cost of branding occurs when there is no consistency. It may not have a direct impact on your bottom-line like advertising, public relations, or a new piece of collateral, but there is a cost.

Each time your brand comes in contact with a consumer an investment was made to achieve that impression. If done well your message is reinforced with every engagement. But so often what happens, marketers focus on the key message (i.e. sign up today, lower costs, new and improved) and the branding becomes not even secondary, but an afterthought. If a company spends $30k for an online campaign and the branding is focused energy-efficiency, a lasting impression is made on the consumer. If the next campaign’s branding is a similar investment promoting a low-cost position, the company is pushing a different messaging, instead of building off of the original one. While it’s fuzzy math, the company gets two different $30k campaigns with little added to the bottom line.

Branding gets expensive when you have different messaging in the market place. When you consider that each consumer engagement has a cost associated with it, a company wants to build on its investment. If you are a home developer and your messages are about custom homes, sustainability, affordable, or quality, what is your target audience supposed to think?

In a recent branding assignment for a nonprofit, there were ten of us sitting in rooms over months, slogging through numerous meetings. We dissected the organization’s mission statement, goals, brand personality, name, colors, logo, font, clients, competition, as well as many other details. In the end, we revised the brand to be more relevant in today’s world. But the truth is branding is just as important to major corporations as it is all the way to small businesses.


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