Perhaps the most over-worked, miss-identified term in today’s business lexicon is ‘brand-branded-branding’… and multiple other derivatives of the word.
Perhaps ‘brand’ as a concept has become so mysterious because it’s not being taught properly in business schools;
or perhaps the problem is the myriad brand ‘specialists’ who seem to be popping up online via blogs and websites… or just maybe, too many people have watched a particular television program where each contestant, regardless of background or acumen become marketing and brand specialists on a weekly basis as they peddle hotdogs in the hope of becoming the next apprentice of a well-known real estate tycoon.
My goal here is simple; I’m going toin very general terms, explain what a brand is; and I hope (but I really don’t really care) that I don’t upset the supposed brand ‘gurus’ out there, including those esteemed TV-show celebrity types in the process.
I’ll start out with this simple statement, one that should clear up all the confusion. “Your brand is every touch point; every transaction you have with both your internal (staff/investors/board members, ect) and external audiences.”
This means your brand is more than your company name, logo, colours and give-away swag. Your business, staff, facilities, operations… (in its entirety) is your brand.
Every element of your brand, from your personal appearance, your written correspondences; the manner in which you answer your phones and emails, and most important; your products/services and customer interactions (and yes… your logo, name etc… they make up the visual aspect of your brand, so they count too) all combine to make up that innocuous term; ‘brand’.
Make no mistake; you get to select your logos etc; however, your customers will determine what your brand really is.
Let me give you a simple example:
You own a small business producing — widgets.
You have strong brand visuals (logos, etc), your shops are always clean and organized, your sales and customer service teams are examples of how their jobs should be performed (courteous, informed; knowledgeable, etc) and you pay honor to your warranties and commitments… returns are processed with no question asked.
Sounds good right… a strong brand?
Your brand will ultimately be formed around a key deliverable; QUALITY… and yours is poor. Ultimately, that key deliverable, in spite of everything else will ultimately dictate your brand.
As part of your company’s inevitable eulogy, they’ll say: ‘they were a good bunch; they just couldn’t build a reliable widget to save their lives… and they’ll be missed.’
The lesson here is this.
When considering what your brand is and how you will build it; ALWAYS remember that ultimately your brand will be determined by the quality of your product and service, and how you interact/treat your customers in each and every interaction.
Brand is a long-term investment of time, energy and detail; and its every bit as valuable (actually, even more valuable) than any of your visual brand markers such as logos (unless you’re Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Google, Nike, etc… and if you are, then you’re likely not reading our blog. BUT YOU SHOULD!).
Ensure your brand is built on unquestioned pillars of customer service; quality and integrity; reinforced by well-designed brand visual and graphic elements, and it will be hard to go wrong.
Now that we’ve clarified what a brand is, in our next blog we’ll provide valuable tips on how to develop a successful brand.