Following our series to distinguish PR from it’s “siblings”, it’s time to introduce you to Branding. However, let’s take a few words to remind some of the main differences here.
We already know that Public Relations is responsible for the creation and management of public opinion towards a product or a brand with a well-planned strategy that will earn free media in wider audience channels in order to reach not only a predefined target audience but also to anyone who might be interested in the product or brand itself. It differs from Advertising because PR won’t pay for advertising spaces, and also from Marketing, which has sharper targets to aim for.
Now, it’s time to understand the relations between PR and Branding.
What is Branding
Play with me: what does a yellow M letter remind you of? Is it, by any chance, a particular fast-food chain? I know I’m not inside your head, but I bet it is. This is Branding! No, not the M letter, but what you have associated with it. Maybe I shouldn’t be so brief about it.
Okay, when we are talking about Branding, we are embracing elements and the image aspect of your company. McDonald’s has a very good Branding strategy because you can easily associate it’s particular elements to the brand itself. One of its competitors is Burger King, and they have a completely different Branding than McDonald’s – still, a very good one, once you can distinguish each other perfectly without seeing their names on the logos. Whether a symbol, a design, or a name, Branding is made to make the company or product stand out among similar offers.
The importance of Branding
Apart from the obvious knowledge that every brand must be easily recognizable, Branding is linked to the corporate communications of the company. Brandingmag explains the importance of Branding in an objective way: it will be responsible for the overall impact your company makes. Brief and assertive, I love it.
Good Branding will make you recognize the company simply by looking at its logo. To make it simple, let’s pretend you are at one of those music festivals and you are looking for a friend. Among the crowd, you stare at a certain face and immediately know who they are and what they are possibly thinking. With Branding, it’s almost the same – it’s like the logo is a face to be recognized in the crowd and when you do so, you know what does it has to offer. Therefore, Branding is the image management of a certain brand, which makes this concept strongly connected to PR.
When you build an image for a company or a brand, you control what you want people to perceive. If you want to achieve a serious impression, you will go for a much more conservative design, with classical references, bold colors, or even sounds (yes, audiovisual is also Branding!)… Think of a Law Firm logo or even a Hospital Logo. They have to be associated with trust, strength, professionalism, just to name a few. Meanwhile, think of a party and events company for small children to celebrate their birthdays. Would you consider this company to make business with if they have a similar logo to a Law Firm? Sounds like a boring party to me 😛 It makes much more sense to use vivid colors, creative designs, and just be playful with the elements to build the logo of this company.
Either a Law Firm or a much more informal industry, the Branding will already communicate to you a lot of important information that this brand wants to share with you. But what about the information they cannot control? Well, my friend, this is the reputation.
Public Relations and Branding
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you probably understood my writing style by now. So I will go on with my informal ways of communicating if you don’t mind.
What does the reputation has to do with all of this?, you might be wondering. The reputation is what people think of you. Public opinion! That’s where PR makes its triumphal entrance. When Branding and PR get along and share some insider information, they can equalize a strategy in order to achieve a positive image and reputation, since those are two different concepts.
Branding and PR must keep their authenticity because nobody wants to fool people out there: they will have a matching strategy aimed towards Brand Awareness. On one side, Branding will communicate its desired information with you, helping you associate their elements with them. On the other side, PR will make sure that your reputation, therefore, the uncontrollable information, will maintain positive levels and grow the business.
Strategy and Brand Awareness
Have you noticed some fancy words I have been using here on purpose? Of course, you have, you’re smart!
The reason why I reminded you about the main aspects of Advertising and Marketing, besides PR, at the beginning of this article is that together, they make a hard-to-beat strategy to brand awareness. When paired up, PR, Marketing, Advertising, and Branding, the chances of your company to have a considerable value increase is way higher than it would be, if you pick one or another.
To sum things up: with Marketing, you will get to know your customer’s needs and expectations in order to meet up to what they are looking for. When you have the product, you will have it advertised with paid media, so all of your audience can be presented with the innovation you have developed for them. With Branding, they will start to build familiarity with your brand through the association of the elements. PR will wrap it all up and put a pretty ribbon on it with brand awareness, building and managing your reputation with the world. Cute, right?
Public Relations in Branding
PR and Branding are close friends. There are some differences between them, but they co-relate very well. The role of PR in Branding is to expand its outcomes (I don’t know about you, but I read this line in Aaron Doughty’s voice).
I’ve spoken enough, for this article’s purposes, about the external public opinion, but I have not said a word about the internal public opinion…Yet. Remember what I’ve said about the relations of PR with Inbound Marketing? Well, with Branding, it’s quite similar. You want your employees to be proud to be with you, to use your elements in their stuff. It can be a backpack, a shirt, a hat… It doesn’t matter. I am pretty sure you have a branded item you have always wanted to have, like those cute airplane models some companies give out and I always wanted to have (in case you are looking forward to surprising me with a gift, I also love this one).
The Experience element
Positive experiences lead to positive emotions, rather negative experiences lead to negative emotions – you already know that.
Fostering an emotional connection with your customers is incredibly important in order to boost your image and reputation. You oughta manage this communication through both controllable and uncontrollable elements. When you work all your way through PR to reach a good relationship with your customers, they will engage and be enthusiastic with your branding. Take Coca-Cola for an example: they have made so far with this knowledge that they, a beverage and foods company, now own a clothing store that people love and engage with. They have good Branding, and Branding is really that powerful.
As you might already be suspicious, in Marketing and Communications, dealing with emotions is taken very seriously. This scenario isn’t any different with Branding, which is also one of the aspects of Marketing (in case you didn’t notice so far, but I highly doubt it). That being said, the key to Branding in PR is to lead positive emotions through brand awareness. The experience the customers had is, therefore, essential. PR will make sure the relationship of customers with the brand will maintain a consistent and positive outcome, so they will interact more and even create loyalty to its products and services. Business is made!