Differentiation in the marketplace is every organisation's challenge and branding lends a distinctive approach. A perspective on how it all began.
Marketing schools will tell you that branding is as old as the hills - or cows, to be more specific. In the old days of cow grazing and herding, the owner of his or her own set of cows would find it hard to differentiate the herd from the others' and hence the need for a method of identification. An innovative, though painful method of identifying the livestock was introduced - branding with hot iron. Usually on the side near the rear of the cow, an insignia would be marked with searing hot iron rods. Each animal carried a sort of symbol that identified the owner - perhaps a line, a cross, a cross merged with a star, the first letter of a name - a unique style of presentation, what we might term today as fonts! As time progressed, tags behind the ears came into use (though hot rod branding is still followed).
When marketing and ad gurus coined terms like 'positioning' and consumer perception, branding became a center point of all discussion regarding the success and sustenance of businesses. Today, business enterprises, large and small, start-ups and conglomerates alike, are all in the fray when it comes to differentiating themselves in a crowded marketplace.
Branding in business, however, is not just a unique symbol and logo or even colourful packaging and design. It is a philosophy. It is what the organisation believes in. The true identity of an organisation and its people is the principles and processes that it follows. The perception that its consumers and clientele enjoy. The promise that it delivers. Time and again. Therefore, branding is a strategic, 360 degree exercise that involves all stakeholders.