The Branding Platform

Branding Definition — An Approach with Six Basic Elements
As part of our general approach to marketing communications programs we address the development and implementation of a branding platform. This platform can be either a formal process or an informal recognition of the characteristics or attributes that are projected by a company, its products, and personnel. The initial phase defines the market services' attributes and differentiating factors, and develops a positioning platform.

The implementation of a branding program can vary greatly. At the foundation are an acknowledgement of and a corporate commitment to the principle of the branding platform. This platform is a synthesis of both the company’s identity and the brand’s identity.

On a high level, the Corporate Identity is reflected in a company Mission Statement. This Statement embodies objectives and goals, innovation, teamwork, conduct, service, attitude, and corporate values. It is written in a concise manner from the perspective of the company and acts as an underlying guideline for creating a successful organization.

Brand Identity, on the other hand, focuses on the customer’s or client's external perceptions, motivations, and expectations of their relationship with the brand and the benefits they receive from the use of the product or service. At its most basic level a brand is the “word” to which value and experience is attached. It is not the company, but the product, as Apple is to iPad, consumers respect the company, but identify, value, experience, and purchase the brand. The brand can be expressed through:

Brand Identifier
Brand Identifier is the key word that synthesizes the attributes of the product, service, or experience that you would use to describe the benefit/value received by the customer.
Brand Slogan
Brand Slogan is the action-benefit phrase that expresses the key identifier and acts as a positive memory hook for the product or service.
Brand Mission
Brand Mission is a succinct one-line description of the benefits the brand brings to the customer.
Brand Position
Brand Position is the expression of the benefits the brand brings to the target market, within a competitive, “Frame of Reference” category, highlighted with differentiating, compelling reasons for the brand’s existence.
Brand Personality
Brand Personality can be defined in a five to eight word list of attributes that characterize the customer’s experience with the brand from both a physical standpoint and from a results and outcome standpoint.
Brand Affiliation
Brand Affiliation profiles the type of person using the product or service, through which the “ideal” user is defined. The brand is then associated with this ideal and elevated through identification.

This brand definition is the foundation of a “Branding Platform.” It is the basis of how a brand is perceived and guides the consistent use of the branding message throughout print, web, advertising, publicity, and company communications.

In essence, branding is an impetus to define the benefits that a product or service offers the customer. A branding platform says to everyone within the company, “This is what we need to do fulfill the expectations that our market has of our brand.” If implemented in this manner, with senior management direction, each department: finance, R&D, manufacturing, purchasing, HR, accounting, customer and support services, and marketing, has a stake in the platform and the act of generating sales. Branding then becomes a unifying voice and a commitment on the part of the company’s employees that speaks directly to the customer. Ideally, branding personalizes the connection between the producer and the user. It says that we have a common goal.

If you are a market leader, branding helps reinforce the strength of your company’s position and increase market share. If you are a market follower, branding can elevate your position in the mind of user, and increase market share, or it can open an avenue to a new category where you can enter as the market leader.