In a world of ever-increasing competition, branding has become critical for any company to prove successful. The idea of branding transcends simple elements like logos, colors or taglines; instead, it represents a compilation of the attitudes and feelings that consumers attach to your company and its products or services. While a company can control the messages it puts out and the quality of its products and services, it does not have control over how its efforts are perceived by the public. Creating a brand consistent with the company's category and culture with every element in harmony with each other is something that takes time and attention, but if done correctly can yield great rewards.

If you don't think branding is important, just take a second to consider the price difference between a Lexus and a Kia, a MacBook and an Acer, or any brand and its generic. For me, it's Aquafresh toothpaste. I buy no other toothpaste, regardless of any sales or promotions on other brands. In fact, I am so devoted to the Aquafresh name that I take it everywhere with me to ensure that I don't have to use anything else. It's that important to me. You want your brand to be to consumers what Aquafresh is to me. So the question becomes how to achieve this kind of consumer loyalty.

First, it's critical to decide what exactly it is you want your brand to stand for. To be successful in branding, all of your efforts must be focused, and to for your efforts to be focused, you must have a unifying message. You want to develop a brand message that is unique, something that hasn't been done before. Not only will this differentiate your brand from competitors in a distinct way, it will prevent any confusion among consumers. You want them to instantly connect the desired feelings and attitudes to your brand and not anyone else's.

Once you have your message, you need to enforce it. Reiterate this message with every advertisement, social media post and promotional event. Everything your company puts out should be instantly accredited to your brand. It's important to maintain a consistent look and tone that unifies these messages to be unmistakably identified as that of your brand.

While a consistent appearance of elements related to your brand helps consumers to make the connections, this doesn't necessarily mean that everything your brand puts out needs to 'match.' Instead, developing a general look with a consistent color palette and font selection and maintaining a harmonious tone for all messages will effectively achieve consumer brand recognition. This also allows for creative freedom to present messages in new and fresh ways in the future. This is a key point considering that in order to continue to build your brand in a constructive and favorable manner, you must periodically alter its presentation to stay current and relevant to consumers.

Branding is what truly separates otherwise similar products. You want your brand to be highly regarded and top-of-mind'the kind of brand that people will go out of their way to get. By building relationships with your consumers, you make emotional connections that are stronger than any other incentive.

So take some time, find out what exactly it is with which you want your brand to become synonymous, then develop your company and its communication to reinforce this message and drive the point home to consumers. Give your brand meaning. If your brand doesn't stand for something, it will surely fall.

So stand strong!

- Savannah Harper, LB Wordsmith