Branding… what the heck is it? Many of our clients come to us thinking their logo is their brand.
Well, in the original sense of the word, that is true. Just like ranchers burning their “brands” or marks in livestock to identify ownership, a logo is your “mark.” But there’s a much bigger and more important story to creating and building a brand.
If you look up definitions for branding, you’ll find there are many. But they all come down to this: your brand is what people think it is. That’s right… The perception, image, experience, memory etc. that people have of you is your brand. A brand exists in the minds of consumers; and no matter how much you say you’re the best, the fastest, the most expert, the (fill in your own superlative), it’s your reputation and the emotional bond you’ll have with your customer that gives your brand equity and value.
If you’re wondering how to go about creating a brand, let’s take a look at the elements you have control over:
Your SERVICE and/or PRODUCT
Always deliver the exceptional:
- Does it solve someone’s problem, fulfill a need or desire?
- Is your service and/or product have value? Will people be attracted to it?
- Is it different than others in your space?
- Do you continue to innovate and improve?
Your brand makes a promise to your customer:
- What do you have to offer that’s different from everyone else?
- What are the benefits (real and emotional) that your customers will experience?
- Is this promise believable?
- Can this promise be delivered consistently and over time?
Your brand must deliver on its promise:
- Collectively, does your company consistently deliver what it promises?
- Individually, do your employees deliver what you need them to? Do they believe in your company, services and/or products? Do they know what you stand for and do you represent those ideals day in and day out?
- If you’re a product maker, do your products perform as promised? Every single time?
- If you’re a service provider, do you always do what you say you will do? Do you do more?
Your BRAND CULTURE
Cultivate your brand culture and support your brand promise:
- Does your corporate culture reflect well on your company?
- Can your employees stand behind the brand you are building?
- Do your employees enjoy their work, their working environment and the people they work with? (Remember, they have opinions that will be voiced on the “outside.”)
- Do you and your employees know, understand and can fulfill your brand promise?
Your BRAND IMAGE
Your brand has a personality:
- Is it fun? Serious? Straightforward? Cheeky?…
- Does it connect with your customers?
- Is it authentic and trustworthy?
- Do you project it consistently?
Your brand has a voice (how it speaks to its audience):
- Is it strategically developed and well defined?
- Are you projecting it consistently and clearly?
- Are you speaking where, when and how you need to?
- Does your brand speak “to” rather than “at” your customers?
- Does it support your brand promise?
Your brand’s identity and communication materials:
- Do they accurately represent your brand?
- Are they professionally and thoughtfully crafted?
- Is there a strategy behind their messaging and design?
- Is your identity crafted well so it can be reproduced across a wide variety of materials and media?
- Are materials being used appropriately?
- Do they support your brand promise?
These four areas — your service/product, delivering on your promise, your internal and external culture, and your image — are all within your power of building a strong brand. If you pay attention to these areas and are mindful of their development and use, and you’re authentic in your messaging and delivery of your brand promise, then the positive experiences your customers will have with your brand will reflect back and allow your brand to grow and prosper.