Branding is the coherent outward expression projected by an organization. A corporate brand is a product of an organization's corporate strategy, mission, image, and activities. Brands distinguish organizations from their competitors, orient the organization in the minds of customers, and create a perception of what an organization stands for.
When building a brand identity, it is essential to:
• Make it easy to remember
• Make it easy to promote
• Make it easy to see your value
This includes the careful crafting of the following:
Mission: The organization's reason for existing.
Vision: What the organization aims to become.
Values: What the organization believes in and how it will behave.
Brand Essence: The timeless qualities of the brand. It's heart and soul.
Brand Promise: The things the brand promises its audiences that are important to that audiences and unique to the brand.
Brand Personality: Describing the brand as if it were a person.
Brand Archetype: The pattern or model that underlies the brand; its motivations and behaviors.
Businesses and organizations that focus on strengthening brand identity tend to outpace those that do not. Full-flavor brands that influence culture will obviously sell more. Beyond the "look" of your brand, there must be continual attention on engagement, the use of new technology to deliver convenience and customization, and innovation (among many other elements). Your brand must be cared for and nurtured, kept fresh, dynamic, relevant, and at top of mind while retaining its unmistakable identity. This balancing act is the challenge, but also the opportunity, presented to a brand. What counts is how your brand comes across to your customers.
The Icon - The UFC
For a great stretch of time, the UFC was the only legitimate mixed martial arts organization in the United States. As such, they did not need to pay as much attention to brand identity as they do now that the field has become more crowded. As the business of MMA has evolved, the UFC has remained steadily at the forefront through great effort. In today's MMA business landscape, there is no organization that is close to being as easily recognized as the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
During a marketing conference at Concordia University in 2011, Tom Wright, Director of UFC Canada, spoke about branding. In short, he mentioned 5 key aspects the UFC's brand strives to embody:
1. Be Authentic
2. Remember Your Roots
3. Show Your Energy
4. Be Accessible
5. Nobody Likes A Poser
The Newbie - War MMA (Nick Diaz Promotions)
After his recent second retirement from MMA competition, world-ranked welterweight Nick Diaz has ventured into the MMA promotion business with the establishment of War MMA. It will be interesting to see how this newborn organization grows and whether it can have any substantial impact in terms of market share. They would do well to emulate some of the methods used by the UFC in establishing their brand identity, but in the current state of MMA, there is certainly room to strike out and find new ground. The questions is: will they?
Memorability: Memorability can come from using and sticking with an unusual color combination, distinctive behavior, or with an individual, even a style of clothing. Develop your own identifiers and nail them to your company name in the minds of your public.
Loyalty: When people have a positive experience with a brand, they're more likely to return to that product or service again than competing brands.
Familiarity: Familiarity induces liking. People who have never had direct contact with your business but have encountered your company identity sufficient times may become willing to recommend you even when they have no personal knowledge of your products or services.
Premium image, premium price: Branding can lift what you offer out of the realm of a commodity, so that instead of dealing with price-shoppers you have customers eager to pay more for your goods than for those of competitors.
Extensions: With a well-established brand, you can spread the respect you've earned to a related new product, service or location and more easily win acceptance of the newcomer.
Greater company equity: Making your company into a brand usually means that you can get more money for the company when you decide to sell it.
Lower marketing expenses: Although you must invest money to create a brand, once it's created you can maintain it without having to tell the whole story about the brand every time you market it.
For consumers, less risk: People tend to choose the brand-name supplier over the no-name one.