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Written by Finn Ruijter, 18 November 2020

Branding: build your brand

Whether starting a new business or dusting off an existing one, a strong image is the key to success. With this, you determine how customers see your brand and what prices you can charge.

What is branding?

Branding, the name kind of gives it away, comes from the word branding. Cattle used to be branded to make it clear who owned them. Later goods were also branded, such as the wooden boxes that contained wine bottles. The brand was then in effect a seal of quality.

These days you see branding in many areas: religions (think the cross or the crescent), people in the form of personal branding, places (Amsterdam, for example) and, of course, companies with their products and services.

Branding for businesses

Not all of an organization’s marketing activities are aimed at improving its bottom line. Branding is a good example of this. And contrary to popular belief, branding is not about stating a company name, logo or slogan.

Of course, branding should not lack those elements, but what really matters is communicating a set of values. Values that make your company unique and with which it appeals to your target audience.

Branding is investing in your brand. And in the case of a new or relatively unknown name, it starts with building that brand. Branding is the collective term for actions that position a brand in the market so that customers can and want to identify with it.

Why companies do branding

The primary goal of branding is simple: to increase awareness of a brand. But it doesn’t stop there. By communicating its unique values, a company engages with the customer. It shows that it enjoys working together to create a win-win relationship.

Sustained, successful branding can create interesting situations. Thus, it can increase your company’s brand equity. That means your target audience is more willing to pay more for your products or services than for similar products or services from other organizations.

Brand equity can take extreme forms. Consider, for example, cans of Red Bull that cost €1.34 while competitors charge less than €0.50. Or the €89 Nike sneakers produced for €25. And Louis Vuitton handbags that retail for €5,000 have production costs of less than €200.

Another result of successful branding may be that your brand word turns into a verb or generic name. Skyping with your family in Australia or googling something; we don’t look up to it anymore. A blind is called a Luxaflex. What about kids who call every off-road vehicle a Jeep?

Forms of branding

You may be wondering what branding looks like in practice. Simple: no communication channel should be spared when implementing a branding strategy. So the question is more about which channels your business will focus on.

  • Merchandising
    A well-known form of branding is merchandising, where you see a logo and/or slogan on physical products. This can range from corporate gifts like pens and key chains to selling apparel, as sports teams do so successfully.
  • Advertising
    Then there are the advertisements that aim to make a brand’s name known or change its perception. This can range from a newspaper page with only a slogan to a TV spot made primarily to evoke emotions in the viewer.
  • Sponsorship
    Your logo on the jerseys of a soccer club or on the flags at an event: with sponsorship, you link your brand to another brand that has similar values and an overlap with your target audience.
  • Customer Contact
    You communicate your company values not only “out there,” but also when customers interact with you. In fact, every form of interaction with the public gives you the opportunity to do branding: in emails to customers, during telephone contact, when unpacking your product or during face-to-face communication.


A brand identity is not something you can shake out of your sleeve in an afternoon. It requires preparation, dedication and cooperation. The result is a clear message that touches your target audience. The following 5 steps will give you an idea of what the branding process can look like.

  1. Perfect your product or service
    Before getting started with branding, your product or service should be all over the place. If you skip this step, your branding may raise high expectations that your product or service does not live up to.
  2. Define your values
    If you haven’t yet put your business mission on paper, now is the time. So what story can you tell your customers? Who are you, what do you believe in and what motivates you?
  3. Research your target audience
    Is your target audience aware of your brand? What is the perception of your brand compared to other brands? What values do they associate with your brand? With this foundation, you will know the extent to which your branding needs to adjust perceptions.
  4. Create your value proposition
    What are you promising your customers? Come up with a unique value proposition that sets you apart from the competition. Are your products or services more reliable? Or are they cheaper? Do you offer options that others do not? You want to communicate these characteristics clearly to your target audience.
  5. Establish your branding guidelines
    In what tone will you address the target audience? What color scheme is your communication going to have? You should then apply this corporate identity to all channels. This consistency makes your brand instantly recognizable.

Build your brand

That the corner snack bar and the local pet store do not have a house style is somewhat understandable. But for an organization like yours, a strong image is indispensable. This will set you apart from your competitors and help your target audience choose you.

Enough theory. Time to apply branding in your organization. How? Start with our branding checklist. Download it for free to see how far along you are and what items you still need to check off. Because it may be a lot of work, but a good guide will get you there step by step. Prefer to read a comprehensive explanation around the topic of branding? Then download our free white paper.