Simply, ‘Image’ is the perception (picture) that consumers have about a particular business at any one point in time.
Whereby, ‘Brand’ is the relationship between the business and the consumer’s values. For example, when a consumer looks to purchase a running shoe they may think of Nike because of it’s alignment with winning and achieving.
Image and branding has everything to do with identifying your target market, identifying the values that are important to your target market and then creating an image and a brand that relates to those values.
Trying to cover all demographics and values is not recommended because it would be very difficult to achieve effective branding economically. The consumer will be disappointed with the product and the business.
For example, promoting luxury airline tickets whilst actually hearding travellers into small seats and delivering poor customer service will upset those consumers and word will get out and damage the ‘Brand’. Conversely, entering the marketplace promoting high levels of service at a cheap price, will hurt margins for the business and will unsustainable in the long-term.
Typically a brand will consist of an unique mix of values, such as :
- Consumer benefits,
- Consumer age target (e.g. children, young adults, mature adults, Generation X, etc),
- Image projection (athletic, adverture, wealth),
and so on.
Branding can also be broken down into ‘external’ and ‘internal’. External branding is prodominately used to create new customers for the business via mass advertising, such as print, internet, radio and television.
Internal branding is reminding existing customers that you value their business of which the aim is to increase repeat sales from those customers. Internal branding will typically use such media as email, SMS, direct mail and the telephone.
Creating an image and a brand for a small to medium size business is not about flashy and slick advertisements. It’s about getting your key customers (target market) to recognise your business as their prefered choice for the products or service you provide.