The following is an excellent article by Lois Geller that she wrote for Forbes Magazine. It presents clearly and succulently the importance of branding and the fact that it’s not something that can happen over night. As I tell my clients, “Your brand is the visual representation of who you are and what you do.”
In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise. Think of some top brands and you immediately know what they promise: McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Budweiser, Ford, Apple, MetLife.
You know what you’re going to get with a well-branded product or service.
In another sense, a brand is a specific combination of logo, words, type font, design, colors, personality, price, service, etc.
It’s also a bundle of attributes. Think of Volvo, for instance, and your first thoughts are probably going to be something like “well built, comfortable, Swedish” and, most of all, “safety.”
The promise, look, personality and attributes can eventually acquire a special patina of what I call “me” appeal. Buying a certain brand says something about the person who buys it. Apple has that patina. So does Prius. The booze and clothing businesses are filled with patina products: Cristal, Guinness, Ralph Lauren, Manolo Blahnik.
All of this can lead to sub-brands, like iPhone and iPad which acquire the aura of the parent brand.
It takes a lot of time, money and very hard work to build and maintain great brands like that, brands that can speak volumes in just a few syllables.
That’s why I’m usually rendered speechless when a prospective client asks us for a quick “Brand”.
It happens a lot more often than you’d think. I love developing brands from scratch but when the client needs something quick, there’d better be a strong existing brand already in place.
If you’re going to develop your brand, the last thing you want to do is follow the beaten path. You want to head down your own road. Your brand has to plant itself in the hearts and minds (especially hearts) of prospects and customers.
It also has to be memorable. Your brand is the focus of all your marketing efforts (yes, it needs to say something about your company, connect with your target market, be motivating in some way and always create loyalty).
Sometimes a brand is memorable because of the little things.
TD Bank has a special place in their branches for you to deposit all those coins you collect in jars. It’s called the Penny Arcade and makes it a fun game and you can even win prizes. If your kids collect coins, you might want to open a TD account so they can enjoy the process of saving their money there. Years ago Dime Savings Bank in New York had a small dime carrier it gave to kids and then they’d fill up the 50 slots with a dime in each one (Dime Bank, get it?) and bring it to exchange for a $5.00 bill. Little things can mean a lot (and little things are all do-able on the smallest budget.)
When you think about your brand, think about all the elements: promise, personality, look, voice, service, attributes, memorability, even patina. There’s a good chance that if you ask customers, prospects and competitors about it, you’ll be surprised at how strong your brand actually is.
It’s shorthand for what you are.