A ‘brand’ is the source of an organization’s promise to the consumer and it is the foundation of all marketing communications. Branding is the process of creating a unique name and image for a product, service, or organization, to instill in the minds of consumers. The purpose of building a brand is to establish a solid and distinct presence in the market that attracts prospects that become loyal customers. The process of branding is mostly done through advertising and promotional campaigns. There are numerous ways to use PR strategies to enhance, add depth, and cohesiveness to the building of brand identity. When it comes to branding and the role of PR, the goal of PR should not only be about raising brand awareness, but also to build a stellar reputation. A great reputation goes hand-in-hand with building a brand.
Effective PR involves building a brand through reputation building. This involves developing trustworthiness around a brand through the development of relationships, as well as conveying transparency through truthfulness. By emphasizing truthfulness of a company and its brand, it will be viewed by consumers as being trustworthy. In other words, good PR involves using transparency to build the reputation of a brand. Branding is all about selling, but PR is about conveying an image of a brand that they present to the public.
Good PR is needed for building a successful brand. PR corporate citizenship campaigns are an example of improving an image to build the reputation of the brand. McDonald’s recently announced plans to begin using chicken raised without antibiotics and milk from cows that are not treated with an artificial growth hormone. The effect of this action and its announcement is not to build the McDonald’s brand but rather to enhance the company’s reputation. Therefore, building a brand includes the effect of the activities a company is undertaking to enhance their image. PR does not build the brand, but rather grows, protects, and defends the brand’s image.
Today brand PR can no longer be about developing and disseminating positive information. PR also has to plan for and counter perceived media bias. It has to deliver objective information about an organization that must be disseminated to the various media channels, even when it is not so positive. If not, consumers will start to see the media and company PR campaigns as part of the same marketing process and they will start to question the truthfulness of the messages. The result will be consumers turning away from the company and its brand due to trust issues.
Advertising that involves brand building does not turn off consumers. Consumers like a good television ad – The Super Bowl television commercials are a prime example of that fact. Today’s consumers want to learn about new and interesting products and services. What turns them off is advertising techniques designed to trick or influence them to purchase a product or service from a company that fails to fulfill its promises and acts in an unethical way.
Building a successful brand is not about getting a company’s target market to choose them over their competitors. It is about getting prospects to see what the company is offering as the only one that provides a solution to their problem. Creating a successful brand requires having an identity. An effective brand identity must have an emotional presence. That is, consumers want to feel associated with the company. As well, brand identity must always remain a symbol for the company or organization. This symbol will include an image that is positive, unique, and easily differentiated from all other brands.
A strong, established brand is essential in today’s competitive markets. A company’s brand represents their market identity. That is, who the company is, what they do, what they offer consumers, and their reputation for trustworthiness. It is important to spend time building, not selling a brand.
Good PR specialists can build a brand through effective PR that involves enhancing and improving an image, building and protecting the brand’s reputation through transparency techniques that confirms credibility, and connects the target consumers on an emotional level with the company and brand. For instance, packaging information into entertaining and meaningful and entertaining narratives to create strong emotional bonds with customers is an effective PR strategy. With a strong brand, a company has more influence on their market and motivates customers to make a purchase, and ultimately become loyal customers.