When in 2010 we had the opportunity to participate in the creation of the Spanish Branding Association (Aebrand), the definition of Branding represented one of the first challenges to be solved. The result required 45 words: “Branding is the intelligent, strategic, and creative management of all those differentiating elements of a brand’s identity (tangible or intangible) that contribute to the construction of a promise and a distinctive, relevant, complete and sustainable brand experience over time”. Next to nothing! If this is the case, branding should not be called the act of designing a logo, making an advertising campaign, or launching a product on the market, for example.

In this blog, we have already been unraveling what is hidden inside a discipline like this, but perhaps it is clarifying to know where it comes from and, perhaps more importantly, where it goes.

Branding Evolution: A Journey Through Time

Brands on Fire: The Origin of “Brand”

Our journey began in 1660 when the term “brand” emerged from Old Norse, linked to the act of branding cattle to demonstrate ownership. From that distant past, until close to 1900, when brands such as Coca-Cola and Campbell used the term “brand” to refer to their registered trademarks to differentiate the quality of their products, we see how the evolution of branding has been woven with the history of humanity.

From Products to Emotions: The Great Transformation

The 20th century led to the association of products and services with perceptions, ideas, and benefits linked to emotions. This is how the “product brand” was born and, later, in the 80s, the “corporate brands” entered the scene, giving way to the corporate identity that pursues the emotional connection with employees and consumers. As we can see, brands are directly linked to emotions. So if we ask any brand manager what is your brand, their answer should not be based on what they think it is, but on what others think it is.

Branding in Spain: Lost in Translation

The adaptation of the term to the Spanish language is, perhaps, part of the problem. Compared to its cousin “marketing” in Latin America, which makes things easier, “branding” has not found a translation into Spanish. To complicate matters further, the term “brand” sounds similar to “marketing” but not “branding.” A lot of gibberish. For those who are still hesitant, stick with the idea that “marketing” is to the market what “branding” is to a brand. In other words, marketing is responsible for bringing products to market, while branding is responsible for managing brands. Suffice it to say that brands are precisely the visible face of business, hence their importance.

Brand Issue: Rising Value

Different Perspectives: Method Matters

A logo is not a brand. Any search will lead us to find numerous meanings and developments of the brand concept depending on the source we consult, but we are going to stick with the one offered by Philip Kotler. In his book Principles of Marketing, he states that brands “represent the perceptions and feelings that consumers have about a product and its performance.” As we can see, it is not a meaning that is too far from the concept that we currently have about a brand. And you can’t build a strong brand if you don’t base it on solid principles.

What happens is that in the universe of brands, different actors come into play: advertising agencies, digital agencies, design, PR, marketing, branding consultancies… And, indeed, they often do not share concepts, much less methods, thus hindering the understanding and rigorous application of this discipline.

It is worth understanding what each of these players can bring to our brand and business. The stakes are high. It’s been proven that organizations that harness the power of the brand get higher ROIs than their competitors. Or to put it another way, you probably wouldn’t be willing to pay €5 for a coffee unless you had it at Starbucks. Isn’t it?

Branding in the Digital Age: Total Merger

A Paradigm Shift: Welcoming Technology

As if that were not enough, in our current environment, digital transformation makes it necessary to review and adapt the models used for the creation and management of brands. Today, information flows freely in cyberspace and empowers customers to base their decisions on shared experiences and online searches. The need to adapt to this new digital reality therefore becomes imperative.

The digitization of purchasing processes completely changes how companies should think and act. Not only to the extent that this affects your digital presence but also in terms of the implications that this situation has regarding the management of your brand. Understanding the role and potential of the brand is more important than ever and should not be diluted by thinking that with a good social media campaign, you can create value. It is important to be clear that branding in the digital age still requires the basic principles of brand management, even if these must be adapted to new media. It’s not so much about getting brands to connect digitally, it’s about getting customers to connect with brands there and when they care.

More Human Marks: From Person to Person

Technology is not the enemy of humanization. People’s human nature remains the same, even as habits and behaviors, desires and motivations, the way we search and consume change. Understanding the difference is critical to successful brand management in this changing framework.

For some time now, one-way communication has given way to dialogue. Customers look for information not only through the brand itself but also through third-party sources (blogs, news sites, forums…). Managers lose credibility vis-à-vis other external referents. Companies should also review the role of their employees in the context of branding. Aligning employees with the brand is a great opportunity to turn them into the best ambassadors and optimize their communication potential.

Every business has a brand: even those that don’t manage it

Branding is not only for large companies, nor is it exclusive to sectors with a certain glamour. It doesn’t matter if your business is B2B or B2C. It doesn’t matter if you sell yogurt or screws. Every business is made up of people and is directed to people, that’s where brands reside. It’s a matter of feelings or perceptions. And it can be very expensive to let customers manage your brand for you or let someone who is not specialized do it.


Branward Editorial Team