UK: Branding

Last Updated: 3 December 2012

What is a brand? Is it defined by your company logo? Your product packaging? Your advertising and PR campaigns? These are all elements of branding, but are by no means the whole story. In fact, the notion of branding is misunderstood by even the most marketing-savvy organisations.

Branding is a value proposition

Branding represents the intangible part of your business. Products are tangible. They're made in factories and stored in warehouses; they're things you can hold in your hand. A brand, by contrast, is a collection of intangibles – ideas, feelings and word associations. These intangibles reside in your mind.

A brand must stand for something larger than just a product benefit. It represents a value proposition. Consumers choose one particular brand over another because of this intrinsic value.

Because it incorporates the customer's viewpoint, a "brand promise" differs from a mission or vision statement. It must focus on answering three questions:

  1. What business is our brand in?
  2. What differentiates our products and services from those of our competitors?
  3. What is superior about the value we offer our customers?

Branding serves as the link between your product's promise and the consumer's desire. The goal is to express a set of basic principles that can be understood by everyone who comes into contact with your business – customers, shareholders, employees, etc. The brand is your reason for being.

A "brand blueprint" consists of five basic components:

  • Brand name: A name that is unique, memorable, distinctive.
  • Graphic representation: An icon, symbol or image that vividly expresses your brand's identity.
  • Byline: A descriptive word or phrase that tells consumers where to place your brand in their mind's eye, and that always appears with the brand.
  • Tagline: The message that expresses your product's functional and emotional benefits to consumers.
  • Brand story: When you identify your brand, be sure to communicate and preserve its heritage.

Four pillars of branding

The four pillars of branding are: differentiation, relevance, esteem and understanding.

  • Differentiation. To create a brand, you have to set yourself apart from everyone else in the market. You can't build a brand by being the same.
  • Relevance. Relevance has to do with appropriateness, meaningfulness and, ultimately, the value of your point of difference. If your product or service isn't relevant, your point of difference won't attract customers or keep them.
  • Esteem. When you succeed at building relevant differentiation, customers respond with high esteem for your product or service. Brand esteem can maintain high levels even after a brand has lost its point of difference, as with luxury and prestige brands, for example.
  • Understanding. This refers to how well customers understand and believe in your point of differentiation. Understanding also represents an important diagnostic indicator of brand health. For example, when customer esteem for a brand falls below understanding, it means that people know you but they don't like you. If they don't like you, they won't buy your product.

Brand strategy

Although strategies differ in tactics from industry to industry, a brand usually develops along these lines:

  1. Identify the message. A company defines a core message by identifying the distinctive value of its products and services – why its customers care about what it has to offer and what makes it different from its competitors.
  2. Build the message. When the distinctive value is identified, it must be framed in a succinct message people can understand and relate to. This will reinforce the core value of the products and services.
  3. Promote the message. What good is a message if no one hears it? The company must make a strong pledge to aggressively market its product and, over time, to solidify its image (and its associations of quality) in the minds of consumers.
    Determine what you do that your competitors don't and hit that theme hard – again and again. Find the line, the phrase, the image that defines your company, and use it.
  4. "Be" the message. The message is chosen, marketing and advertising campaigns are busy promoting it – but how well is the entire organisation living it? Is there a direct connection between the brand message and the customer's experience when he or she walks in the door and purchases your product?

The brand has to support the message. If you say you'll do something and the customer's experience contradicts this, it's the brand that loses.

What is your brand worth?

Brand equity is the totality of the consumer's perceptions. This includes the quality of products and services, the company's financial performance, customer loyalty and satisfaction. It's all about how consumers, employees and other stakeholders feel about a brand.

A brand equals trust. To build trust, you need a perception of value and a promise of quality. First you create value, and then you deliver on it.

The brand serves as a valuable tool for consumers forced to choose among the bewildering array of products and services in the marketplace. Consumers depend on "signals" that a brand sends out – those intangible associations with quality that it represents. Therefore, it's up to the company to carefully influence and manage those signals at all times, in all encounters with their target markets.

Customers develop their perception of value through a subjective process based strictly on their own needs, preferences, buying behaviours and habits. A company's brand promises to meet those needs and deliver each and every time. Growth comes from serving customers better – not bigger – and concentrating on the brand's unique area of competence.

The CEO as brand champion

Every business needs a brand champion – an individual charged with the authority to ensure that a consistent message crosses interdepartmental lines throughout the organisation.

This person should be responsible for clearing internal communications and/or designing corporate specifications for marketing, sales, administration, personnel and so on. This way, even if all materials aren't being cleared by him or her, guidelines and procedures are in place to ensure that a consistent message is being delivered.

Brand consistency

We urge consistency as the brand champion's foremost priority. Inconsistency generates mistrust. There should never be more than one version of your logo. Your literature should resemble your business card, which should resemble your advertising, which should reflect the people who represent your company.

To the extent that a company's materials lack consistency, the company loses the brand's perception of value and compromises its pledge of quality.

Thinking like a brand

Innovating products and services alone doesn't necessarily achieve any long-term position of privilege with customers. For a brand to be genuine and truly successful, the organisation must think like a brand. Everyone in the organisation must have a personal understanding of what the brand stands for and what their role is in delivering on that brand.

It starts at the top. The CEO must understand that applying a brand strategy requires shared values throughout the organisation. From the production line to the front-line sales staff, every employee is responsible for helping to build brand value. There should be a unified effort to do only those things that improve that value to the customer.

Positioning the brand

Flourishing brands promise specific benefits and deliver on them consistently. Asda promises low prices on quality merchandise. But the brand position is not achieved by a company's marketing staff. The real positioning is done by the customer himself or herself.

Marketing and advertising efforts send out signals a company wants to instil in the consumer's consciousness. But it's the customer who weighs those signals against all the other signals being sent out by competitors.

We offer these suggestions to help position your brand:

  • Develop a list of performance characteristics your customer is looking for in the product category you're selling in. You can develop this by surveying a small group of customers.
  • In a telephone interview, have your customers prioritise the attributes for you and then link them to the brands they feel are most closely connected to specific attributes.
  • Do your customers connect your brand with a certain attribute? Is it an attribute that sets you apart? Is it an attribute you can own and deliver?
  • If so, claim it and connect it with a theme you can make "larger than life". Look for ways to communicate your brand's point of difference and find ways to make your point of difference grow in importance (relevance) to your customers and prospects.

Extending the brand

It's a problem many companies wish they had: you have a strong, functioning brand, so when is the right time, if any, to extend that brand? A whole host of considerations should come into play before you make the decision to leverage brand equity into new areas.

A brand extension works if the new product follows and enhances the promise of the original brand. All too often, however, the necessary "brand discussion" doesn't take place, and the organisation ends up selling something different with a similar name – a product or service no one really wants.

Key questions of brand extension

Before extending the brand, a company should know what it's getting into. Ask these key questions in the early planning stage of a proposed brand extension:

  • What products should we attach the brand to?
  • What products surpass or contradict the brand's implied promise to customers?
  • Will the extension result in an increase or reduction in sales of the core brand?
  • What effect will the extension have on the parent brand's identity?
  • Does the extension make sense to customers?
  • Does it bring new customers into the fold?
  • What happens to the core brand if the extension fails?

Customers are often wary of established brands moving into apparently unrelated product areas. Extending a brand requires immense focus, energy and resources. Companies should first think about exhausting the possibilities of the core brand before moving beyond it.

Online branding

In many ways, online branding closely resembles the branding process in the physical world. The underlying principle remains the same: the brand represents a promise of quality to customers and a commitment to deliver on that promise time and time again.

An e-brand consists of these key elements:

  • Distinctiveness. The website and its brand possess unique characteristics.
  • Perception. It is perceived as a distinctive brand by the target audience.
  • Benefits. Customers derive functional and emotional benefits.

Use the website to provide a clear, accurate representation of your business and then focus like a laser beam on meeting customer needs. Make sure your online brand matters to consumers in some significant way. Otherwise, it's just another distraction in cyberspace.

As in the "real world", e-commerce brand builders must concentrate on their product's personality, presence and performance. Every aspect of the customer's experience must be closely managed – from the first time he or she clicks on the website through to product purchase and delivery. Why is this so important? Because every online experience influences the consumer's perception of the brand.

Just as brand equals trust, so the design and presence of the website should emphasise its value as well. Someone who experiences your brand online wants to know the site will be there next week, when they want to make a new purchase. They want to know you'll have the item you're advertising in stock. They want to know that their transactions with you are secure and protected. All of these commitments come together with your online brand.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Taylor Wessing
Goodman Derrick LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Taylor Wessing
Goodman Derrick LLP
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions