Branding. It’s one of the most commonly used marketing buzz words today and certainly one of the most misunderstood. Branding is too often confused as being just a company’s logo or its “look and feel.” That’s like saying someone’s clothes equal their personality. They contribute to it, but branding runs much deeper.
I like to think of branding as the lasting impression of everything that gets seen, heard, felt or experienced when someone comes in contact with you or your organization. This includes a number of things, for example:
- the way the receptionist answers the phone,
- the way your lobby looks,
- the writing style used on your website,
- the way you do presentations,
- and the way your products or services get delivered.
All of these items impact your brand. And make no mistake, good or bad, everyone and every organization has a brand.
So, how does one proactively and strategically manage one’s brand? Below are four key points to keep in mind when building a strong brand:
- Transparent. A brand needs to be authentic and consistent. Can you deliver on it every time? People should have the same impression regardless of how they come in contact with your brand. For example, imagine if Campers Village staff all wore suits and ties to work. This inconsistency with the company’s outdoor, adventure-oriented image would send mixed signals and dilute the brand.
- Compelling. Focus your brand on aspects that matter to the market. If turnaround time isn’t critical to your customers, don’t build a brand based on speed. Even if you are fast, the market won’t respond. It must matter to the market.
- Different. If it doesn’t stand out from the competition, it won’t be as effective. A brand should be unique to your organization and not built around something other organizations can easily copy. Stand out. Be memorable!
- Moving. The best brands move their audiences on an emotional level. They don’t focus on facts and numbers. They create an experience that triggers an emotional response. For instance, Nike builds its brand on abstract feelings such as empowerment and seizing the moment, not genuine leather or state-of-the-art shoelaces.