Brand v. Branding | A 3D Approach

What does it mean to build a brand?

The next time you’re in a group setting, try this exercise. Say something like, “I’m hungry, I need a chocolate break.” As soon as you say the word “chocolate,” everyone will develop a mental image.

Ask the group to describe these images, and you’ll typically find everyone has pictured chocolate in different ways. Perhaps it’s a river of chocolate (my personal favorite), a specific type of chocolate (light, dark, sweet, bitter, liquid, formed, plain, fancy), or one company and its unique chocolate offerings.

Now say something like, “What I really want is some Hershey’s.” Instantly, everyone’s mental image shifts. They will picture the company name printed in a plain but distinctive typeface on a medium-dark brown background. That name may appear in isolation or imprinted on a wrapper encasing the company’s classic, well-known milk chocolate bar. It doesn’t matter, we can all quickly and accurately create an internal image of the company logo.

That is the power of brand.

Try adding an elaboration, such as “Hershey’s Kisses,” and mental images will shift again. In a marketplace flooded with chocolate choices, the name, shape and wrapping are so distinctive, almost everyone will visualize this tiny, foil-wrapped chocolate treat and its brand elements in almost exactly the same way.

In addition to the mental imagery, many people will have intense sensory experiences. They can smell the chocolate, feel the weight of the candy in their hand, taste the sweetness on their tongue.

That is the power of branding.

Hershey’s built its reputation by providing quality chocolate products at an affordable price for a wide range of consumers. The company name and select individual items prompt a total experience that involves mental imagery, sensory recall, and perception and belief.

Hershey’s created a unique identifier and invested heavily in branding that identifier. Branding at its most elemental level means finding ways to burn the magic three dimensions (image, sensation, belief) into the minds of targeted customers.

Take a look at your company. Is your brand classification clear? Is your company generic chocolate? Or something distinctive and unique? Is your brand simple? Clear? Specific? Can you blend image, sensation and belief into a compact message that resonates with your customers and leverages the power of brand and branding?

Almost every small business could boost its profile by emulating a Hershey-like 3D approach. We'll get to that soon. Right now, it's time for a chocolate break.


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