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Brand or Company: That is the Dilemma.

Inmaculada Urrea, expert consultant on branding at SOFOCO

Having a company is not the same as having a brand. A company can invoice and have renown and yet not be a brand. Why? Because these things don’t involve any emotional investment on the part of customers – and without emotion, there is no brand.

A study by Havas Media entitled Meaningful Brands for a Sustainable Future (2011) found that most people wouldn’t care if more than 70% of brands were to disappear, suggesting that these are not brands so much as companies, as a brand is not just a name, a logo or a product: a brand is built on meanings that matter.

The word ‘branding’ originally meant to mark livestock with fire, as used to be done in olden times to distinguish the animals’ owners. So to distinguish whether we have a brand or a company we can also use these two concepts: marking with fire and ownership.

If our company, metaphorically speaking, is ‘branding’, in other words, it is (positively) memorable to our customers and they feel akin to us because they know us, we get involved and listen to them, then we are dealing with a brand.

Otherwise we would be a company that just commits to the product without considering the customer, or where we compete on price, i.e., we are cheap. Branding doesn’t exist in either of these cases.

To build a brand it is important to consider factors such as our market, our category, our customers (real and potential) and our product. We can then position (or reposition) ourselves on the map: the territory and the horizon in the category; the values we are going to mean as a brand; the ways we are going to convey this to our customers and teams; and the extent to which we are going to focus on the product and the customers – because a brand will never appeal to everyone and nor will we be able to sell everything.

Creating a significant, meaningful brand identity is the goal behind branding, which, it must be said, is an endurance course in which there is no room for short-term views. Conquering the heart of customers isn’t so hard – you just have to want to do it. Wooing them is just as gratifying as finding the love of your life and, as in romantic affairs, involves working every day to that end.

The objective is to generate emotions. An emotion is an impulse that leads to an action – and let’s be straight about it, in the case of brands that action is purchase and loyalty. But only those brands which really mark us out manage it; normally with a reward in the form of customers willing to pay more and to buy again, just because we have touched their hearts.

There is no dilemma: if you are a company you shouldn’t hesitate to become a brand. It’s easier than you think. You just have to want it.  Branding is there to help you. Consult a specialist.

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