You’re thinking about working on your organization's brand BUT you don’t fully understand what it is and why you should be doing it. You have been so busy working IN your business, you don’t have time to work ON your business.
It makes complete sense and this is a position so many leaders find themselves in. You all know that branding is important for your business but you don’t fully know the why.
Well, I’m here to help! Clifton to the rescue! In this article I will discuss the importance of branding and give you an example of a classic brand that has done steller work within the market.
This is my clearest definition of what a brand is - how people feel about a person or organization.
That’s the simple version though. The un-simple version is very very long. It’s like discussing what “love” is or the “meaning of life”. It’s a constantly evolving philosophy of business.
Let’s start by focusing on the word “feel”. What a wildly difficult thing to wrap your brain around. Feelings are the most difficult things to understand and influence (with purpose). This is why if you’re interested in brand strategy you must also be highly-conscious of human behavior.
One of the greatest marketers ever, Clotaire Rapaille, believed that branding taps into people's reptilian instincts. This is why the greatest brands appeal to emotions and not data points. As the old saying goes: People don’t remember what you say, they don’t remember what you do, but they do remember how you make them feel.
At its core, branding is the process of creating a unique identity for a business.
Developing a clear brand message and image, and consistently communicating that message and image to the target audience is a top priority for any business. This can include elements such as the business's logo, color scheme, typography, and overall aesthetic, as well as the tone and language used in marketing and communication materials.
A strong brand can also help a business differentiate itself from its competitors.
Branding is a crucial aspect of any business, but it is especially important for business growth. A strong brand can help a business:
Standing out in a crowded marketplace:
Build trust with customers:
Drive Long-Term Success:
Anyone at your organization that is in charge of hiring will love this next point!
A distinguished brand will help recruit and retain top talent. If the identity of the organization elevates it to a higher position in the market, it will also help attract ambitious and talented potential employees. Strong branding demonstrates that the business strives towards a deeper meaning and anyone looking to optimize their career and their life will see the benefit of this. Elevated brands also tend to be dedicated to being innovative, forward-thinking, and committed to excellence. This can be especially important for growing businesses, as attracting top talent is crucial for engineering growth and success.
Of course, building a strong brand takes time and effort. It requires a clear understanding of the business's target audience and what sets it apart from its competitors, as well as a consistent, cohesive approach to branding and marketing efforts. But for growing businesses, the investment in branding is well worth it. A strong brand can help a business stand out, build trust with customers, attract and retain top talent, and drive long-term success.
“Telling a compelling story is a critical piece of building a brand worth giving a $H!T about” - Cliff Skelliter
As promised, here is an example of an organization that understood the assignment when it came to branding. This is a company you may already be aware of but I bet donuts to dollars that you don’t fully understand the rich history and the pivots they made to dominate their industry.
Nintendo - Japanese Gaming Company
Easily one of the most iconic gaming platforms in history. Before we get into it, here’s a brief history;
1889 - Fasajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo as hanafuda card company. (花札, "flower cards") are a style of Japanese playing cards. They are typically smaller than Western playing cards.
Nintendo means: Leaving one's fortune in the hands of fate.
1962 - Goes public.
1960’s - Nintendo extends the brand into Ramen noodles, taxis, and robot vacuums.
1970s - Home pong console launches.
1979 - Started producing arcade games - Sherif, Space Fever, Radar Scope (failure)
1981 - Shigero Myomoto (game designer) creates Donkey Kong, Nintendo's first real big hit.
1982 - Industry hits 27b in arcade revenues worldwide.
1983 - The industry becomes oversaturated and busts.
1983 - Atari dumps truckloads of games into New Mexico landfill.
1983 - Nintendo releases “fami-con” in Japan.
1985 - They rework the “fami-con” and call it the Nintendo Entertainment System and launch it in the United States.
Genius Branding: They marketed it as a toy as opposed to electronics. They targeted kids and made it the top choice for christmas.
1987 - Nintendo owned 65% of the market and the former top dog, Atari, was down to 24% (they were 80% a few years prior).
1980’s - Super Mario dominates the video game market.
1988 - Sega Genesis launches and truly competes with Nintendo.
1989 - Game boy was released.
1990 - Super Nintendo was released.
1995 - Virtual Boy was released. It was a massive failure in an attempt to experiment with VR.
1996 - Nintendo 64 was released.
2001 - Game cube is released. Is now competing with Xbox and Playstation.
2004 - Nintendo DS is released… becomes its best selling device.
2006 - Wii is released. They dominate with this product.
Genius Branding: They were technologically inferior but they leaned into a different set of values and customers felt the “fun factor” of this product.
2012 - Wii U is released and commercially fails.
Mindset: There is a philosophy in Japan of continuous evolution and producing new products. This allows them to not be overly bothered by product failure.
2017 - Nintendo Switch is released. It was a massive success and revenue jumped 117%.
“This company has done such a great job at speaking to young people and the young part of older people's personalities. They also have some of the most iconic characters in the gaming industry - Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Link, etc… Nintendo also used simplicity of design and technology like the greatest ninjas ever. They also understood that they were an entertainment company and not just a card games company. If they railway companies understood that they were a travel company they were have ruled the skies'' - Cliff Skelliter
Nintendo did two brilliant things: They maintained consistent quality of games and diligently focussed on fun.
Branding is an essential aspect of any business, but it is super clutch for new businesses. A clear brand will make a business stand out in a crowded marketplace, build trust with customers, and drive long-term success. They will see you, they will understand you, they will remember you, and they will do business with you. Invest in your brand with the resources you have at your disposal. You will gain an advantage over your competitors and solidify a clear position in the mind of your target consumer. You can’t outspend bad branding.