Corporate branding is essentially the practice of promoting the name of a corporate entity as a brand in the larger sense as opposed to promoting a trademark in respect of a specific set of goods or services. With today's multiplicity of trademarks in the form of brands, sub-brands, product/service-specific brands or businesses within a business, the true worth and identity of a corporate brand may get diluted.

A corporate brand ideally should instantly conjure up not only the entire brand architecture of a particular undertaking but also all of its virtues and qualities that set it apart from others. Thus, the conceptualization and activities that go into elevating the status and image of a corporate name as a brand are typically much broader in scope than those for product and service branding. However, these different forms of branding can be meaningfully correlated and take place simultaneously.

A corporate branding strategy not only requires trademark registration for a company's name but should also focus on acquiring rights which are congruent with the scope of enforcement. Developing and using appropriate marketing and advertising material is also vital, and in certain cases educating employees about brand usage and reporting can help prolong the shelf-life of a brand. To make the most of a corporate branding strategy, it is also essential for a corporate brand to be associated in the public eye with every brand under its shelter that has acquired valuable distinctiveness in a particular industry. Purchasers and consumers must also be sensitized to associate the brand name with a certain standard or quality of goods instead of the type of goods. The latter may give a sense of accomplishment to a business entity for a while, but it can turn out to be a serious threat in the form of "genericide" of the brand name.

Some effective ways in which a business entity's corporate brand can be strengthened in terms of its image and value are as follows:

  • By focusing on the house mark of a business (which involves the entire range of products and services) as a parallel approach to also connecting it with the promotion and publicity of a particular brand or sub-brand. Thus, for instance, at the time of launching a new product under a new brand or sub-brand, the flow of branding should emanate from the corporate brand to the sub-brand being launched. In this way, the promotion of every new brand/sub-brand will inherently involve the promotion of the corporate brand. This approach must also manifest in respect of the packaging associated with every new brand.
  • By evaluating the business models and strategies adopted by close competitors, an entity may formulate strategies for promoting its corporate brand based on the cultural, social and ideological setup in a particular territory. The strategies may differ from territory to territory in line with the mindset of end-consumers.
  • By creating, registering and maintaining intellectual property rights for and around the corporate brand including any sub-brands derived from the corporate brand.
  • By creating, expanding and maintaining its social media presence on all relevant platforms, a business entity may further promote its corporate brand.
  • By promoting the corporate brand at conferences, seminars and symposiums pertaining to the relevant industry.
  • By way of corporate social responsibility initiatives and other social causes under the corporate brand uplifting the brand's image and identity.
  • By creating, printing, distributing and also publicizing online, blogs, dossiers and articles by the organization on its area of expertise in the relevant industry.
  • By sponsoring events in various territories an organization can get corporate branding mileage, the momentum of which can be used in corporate branding activities.
  • A corporate brand can be promoted through merchandising of popular products such as mugs, stationery, T-shirts, etc. This way a corporate name can gain appeal and recognition among the public.

A strong corporate brand and its underlying brand architecture can create a dynamic, self-sustaining, enforceable and valuable network of brands. In this regard, obtaining and maintaining trademark registration for brands is of vital importance. Also, dealing with the real-world marketing and advertising challenges and thereby strengthening the corporate branding strategy for developing strong brands that end-consumers will best identify with goes a long way towards optimal enforcement and protection.

Originally published in Vantage Asia

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