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What Is Branding and why you need it?

Starbucks cup branding

Hi and welcome to the 3rd post of a series of articles where I address problems that my students faced when they were building there courses. Today we will talk about branding, a very important step in building your online course. When reading this bear with me. You might wonder why I am talking about these big brands, since your course is probably not trying to compete in that league. Use this information, adapt it, it will help your product thrive. So let's dive right in...

What is a brand?

There are different ways to define a brand:

The book "Principles of Marketing" (Philip Kotler/Gary Amstrong) defines a brand as

  • a "name, term, sign symbol (or a combination of these) that identifies the maker or seller of the product".

David Ogilvy, the “Father of Advertising,” defined brand as

  • the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.

You could define it as

  •  “a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.

Let's take the example of a product:  it can be easily copied by a competitor, a brand on the other hand will always be unique. Take Pepsi and Coca-Cola; they taste very similar, however for some reason, some people feel more connected to Coca-Cola, others to Pepsi.

You can find the same with water. The companies product is water, but they sell safety, youth, bubbles... Brands such as Evian, Perrier, Vittel provide each a different meaning to the product water:
– Evian gives you a feel of safety, use it for babies
– Perrier is refreshing, bubbling and sexy
– Vittel purifies your body

What is branding?

"Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand" Kotler & Keller, 2015

I like to compare branding with giving your product life. You give it a character, a style, it awakes emotions in people. This will mean that people like it and others don't. And that's alright. You cannot please everybody and the same is true for your product/course. Let me draw this comparison between your online course and a person coming to a job interview. Which of the 2 would you pick?

  • The one who has a clear vision, a straight message and the ability to express it, a nice clean appearance
  • or the one who has no vision, says whatever the interviewer wants to hear and believes s/he can sort it out later (and gets the haircut later, too).
coce bottle

Now replace the interviewer with your customer and the applicant with your product. Does that make sense? Can you see that it is important to have a defined target,  a clear message and a bit of a look to your product. 

In the 80s where you had the big boom in advertising. RSCG, a famous French advertising agency, used the "star strategy" to define the products of their clients. The products had a body, a character and a style. Those very the 3 basic attributes defined the brand of the product.

  • The body is what your product does, the real value of your product.
  • Its character is the imaginary value of your product. That's where you make it come "alive". People get emotionally attached to the character, not the real value.
  • You use the style to position it. 

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Get help to define your product, message and audience!

Why is branding so important?


To see how strong it is, look at the pictures I chose.  I did not think one second of posting a picture of Pepsi here. I don't like or drink either one but I still have a strong brand preference. I cannot explain it (it is a combination of different factors, nothing realistic or product based since I do not like the product. Here you can see how powerful their communication is.

I would like you to do a little exercise. Take a few brands you know and see what image and which emotions they bring up in you. You will see that it has most likely nothing to do with the product itself. 

Now it is not allowed anymore but most of you remember cigarette ads. Does the cowboy ring a bell? How is it possible that the feelings linked to certain cigarette brands were freedom and health whereas the product is the complete opposite, addiction and death. 

This is just in a nutshell some information to show you how important it is to sit down and think about your course and how you want to brand it. Don't let it be in the way of building your course, I do not give you an excuse here to procrastinate. I want you to look at the big picture, it does not need to be defined in its details but you need to be aware of it.

To help you with this process you can download for FREE this mini course which help you establish a direction to take. You get clear guidelines and help to define the main points for your products, your message and your audience.

Get Help Today with this FREE download.

You may not know where to start so start HERE.

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14 thoughts on “What Is Branding and why you need it?

  1. This is so helpful. A great way to think about branding – and it really takes the guesswork out of trying to figure things out. Thanks for sharing!

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