The question from Puur for today is “what does ‘brand’ actually mean?”. Unfortunately, over the last decade or so the word ‘Brand’ has become something of ‘catch all’ title and one that few really take the time to explain the meaning of. It’s a word that easily gets dropped into conversations with agencies. However, it is an incredibly important subject for any business, whatever its size. Because ‘brand’ is the reason people will camp outside a store to buy a new product that no one has ever seen let alone used. ‘Brand’ says something about you to your peers as well as current and prospective customers, it can command a higher price point and entice the better employees. It’s a lot about perception.
My definition is:
‘Brand’ is a promise, it’s an emotional connection that your customer has with your product or service. This is based on every touch point in the visual and verbal identity, and the associations and inherent value that this creates to the outside world.
If you went to Wikipedia and looked up ‘brand’ you’d get…
A brand is a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Branding began as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. A modern example of a brand is Coca Cola which belongs to the Coca-Cola Company.
A nice insight of where the word came from. However, there are very distinct and important differences between ‘Branding’, ‘Brand marque’ or ‘brand name’ and ‘Brand’ which Wikipedia fails to mention. Branding is the development and application of your icons, words and pictures based on your unique values and selling proposition. In basic terms branding is the application of your company’s visual and verbal identity. You can control it, build consistency and create a strong image in the world. Both ‘brand marque’ (the ‘logo’) and your ‘brand name’ (the name by which you sell you product or service) are part of your branding.
Your branding effects it, but it’s not actually your brand. When you distil down the definition, brand is basically ‘a promise created in the mind of your customer’. Your brand is the perception you create in their eyes, and as such is effected by everything that perception can be effected by; news, the name, your peers, other customers, the temperature of your offices, the economy, the coffee you serve while customers wait etc.
So now we have an understanding of what Brand is, how can we ensure it’s always positive? Luckily there are simple ways that a company can influence their customers’ thoughts and by doing this help build positive perception of you and your company. Here are some quick wins:
• Know what your company is about. Know what you stand for and your strengths/weaknesses through honest analysis of what you do best. If you’re not clear on this then how will your customers be clear?
• Be consistent. One rule of thumb is that when you start to become tired of your visual identity, that’s most likely when it is starting to build recognition in your customers. Remember this isn’t about your likes or dislikes, it is aimed at your target audience. Also it’s not all just about the pictures, your verbal identity is key too. You can influence many of the thoughts that your customers have about you, and how they talk about you, by having consistent messaging.
• Service please. Customer service is also part of a company’s ‘brand’, especially when the definition of ‘brand’ is so customer focused – Make sure that your service and business practices are in-line with your values – the ‘what you stand for’ part of your identity.
• Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Focus on your niche market for your product or service and know it inside out. Ensure that you speak to these people in the way that they aspire to be spoken to.
• Engage all areas. Engage with everyone in your company, they all need to understand what you stand for and where you want to go. They are the people that produce your product or deliver your service, if they don’t know what you stand for how are your customers going to?
• Get expert advice. When developing an identity to reflect your values and positively influence your audience you really need expert advice. Just as you wouldn’t think of doing your own legal work or take on the job of building your own software (obviously unless you were a solicitor etc), why would you create your own branding?
How can we help in all this?
Puur in Colchester can help you with advice on your current branding, help you gain feedback to what your audience thinks of you and also create an identity (organically or otherwise) which can assist in the drive for business growth. We help ensure that your audience associates your product or service as the right solution to their need. Give us a call today to chat about your current challenge.