A strategy used by businesses to differentiate its product(s) from others in the market place and to influence customer purchasing patterns. It involves giving a distinctive name, term, symbol, image, design or packaging to a product (or group of products), which enables it to be easily recognised and differentiates it from other products. See brand / brand name. Branding is more than just a distinctive name. Brand names are also often supported by logos (or ideograms) and / or slogans (or catchphrases). See logo, slogan. Branding can provide numerous benefits. It can: help make a product stand out from others (differentiation); help secure new customers; help secure repeat customers / business and build brand loyalty; help maximise sales and market share – as a result of points 1 to 3 above; enable a higher price to be charged, and thus, add value; provide marketing economies of scale; help maximise profit / profit margins – as a result of points 5 and 6 above; increase the value of a business (thus, return on investment for shareholders). A brand name can actually be included as an intangible fixed asset on a business’s balance sheet. As a result of the above, branding is, clearly, an important strategy in helping to maximise sales, market share, profits and return on investment. However, branding: often requires considerable investment in advertising (and packaging); will only be successful if the product lives up to customers’ expectations and the image built through advertising. Furthermore, bad press with one product can negatively affect the image, and thus, sales of other products with the same brand name.