What is a Brand?
Marketing professionals have a whole arsenal of terms that sound very impressive, but are nebulous to the people they do the marketing for. Here is a sampling: “marketing mix”, “cross-channel campaign” and “branding”.
I recently saw a book titled “Branding Only Works On Cattle”. Of course I had to buy it right away, because – as a marketer – that statement goes against everything I’ve learned, taught and implemented for more than a decade. Clever man, that author. He and I actually agree wholeheartedly: Branding is an integral part of your overall marketing – it cannot and should not stand alone. Now we’re talking!
Ok, let’s finally define the term so we’re on the same page. Your BRAND is the face of your company. Developing it includes:
- A logo and a style guide so it is used correctly every time (color variations, font, what it should look like for different applications, such as embroidery on a shirt, versus your website or your brochure)
- Signage if you have a store
- A slogan if you have one
- Business cards, letterhead, invoice templates, forms, in other words, your corporate identity
I could go on.
While the above items are necessary and important, here are the critical questions that must be answered when building and growing your brand:
- What is your promise to your customers?
- Is that promise kept and delivered consistently?
- How do your customer service representatives greet customers on the phone?
- How do you resolve returns, complaints and other customer issues?
- How do you and your managers interact with the employees?
- How do your employees treat each other?
Hmm… you didn’t expect these questions, did you? The first group of items is fairly static. Yes, you may change your logo over time but it most likely won’t be drastically different. The second set is variable by default because it involves humans. You, as the owner, set the tone and character of your brand and then you must make sure that it is kept whole by your employees – including the people who do your marketing. Easier said than done if you run a billion dollar company with thousands of workers. However, if you are like most of us – a small enterprise – you have a lot of influence over how you are perceived by your clients.
Think about it. You may come up with new ideas that will re-shape your brand, or you may rejuvenate it and go back to the “old” values you started out with. Either way – your business will benefit.