Business Dictionary defines the term branding as, “Entire process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product (good or service) in the consumers‘ mind, through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.” Branding has become an integral part of many public relations aficionado’s daily agenda.
Danielle Blumenthal, a writer for brandchannel.com discusses how branding has become an integral step in any effective public relations plan. Blumenthal argues that reputation does not encompass the brand, yet transparency actually does. Blumenthal defines transparency as,
“The real job of a public relations professional (though they may not be able to express it in practice), means to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the organization, and in so doing to portray the organization as trustworthy. Therefore PR is actually the antithesis of branding, which is to tell a very partial, even propagandistic, truth. Really, branding is pure selling, aimed at owning a single idea in the audience’s mind.”
Blumenthal then argues that there is one exception — this is where PR comes in to play. As she said above she believes that the only reason to build up a brand to be associated with social responsibility or reputation is to protect the brand against damaging attacks.
While I agree with Blumenthal I think there is so much more to branding than what meets the eye. Branding creates a mental image or association for people pertaining to a particular brand. For example, people do not go to Starbuck’s because they use eco-sustainable beans, they go to Starbuck’s for “me time”. They go to Starbuck’s because it is an affordable indulgence. People associate Starbuck’s with great coffee, caring employees, amazing customer service, and a neighborhood family feeling.
Branding creates a companies’ “aura”. Are they a serious company that is conservative, or are they a fun, open company, which embraces their community and treats their employees with the utmost level of respect (Starbuck’s has a reputation for being a great place to work). Branding is accomplished by using visual images, creating a company environment, and creating a feeling or vibe that can be associated with a particular companies’ brand.
Ketchum Public Relations has stepped into the forefront as leaders in company branding and actually utilize entire departments to ensure proper branding for their clients. This attention to detail has led Ketchum to be one of most highly sought after firms in the world for effective and concise public relations strategy and tactics.
Branding involves several different vertically integrated specialties such as PR, advertising, and marketing. When all of these practices are employed in a manner that is consistent the message is effectively communicated to the target audience.
This increasingly popular method of integrated marketing communications, or IMC, has joined different aspects of communication into one integral team. By all working together it ensures the campaign, brand, and company message stays consistent to all audiences.