The word “brand” usually has a very wide and subjective definition. To some people the “brand” is simply a name and logo. To others, “branding” is the act of high-level awareness about a company, product or service. You will usually hear people say something about, “We need a branding campaign so people are more aware of us.” And to others, “the brand” is more about what people perceive your company to be. The reality is if you ask 10 people what brand means you will get 10 different answers.
It’s the Experience
Our definition is a little bit different. We see branding at the total experience with your company, product and service. It is the complete embodiment and persona of your company. Yes, it is the logo. Yes, it is the advertising. And, yes, it is the perception of what you are. But, where the brand truly comes to life is when you have clearly stated a value delivery system to your customers and then every interaction with the customer supports that message and reinforces those principles. This is a very far-reaching principle and can cover from the way people answer the phone to hiring practices, and everywhere in between.
Models to Follow
A great example of this is Disney. At the heart of their brand they have a couple of thoughts they want to deliver in all touch points. Two of these are fun and family. It doesn’t matter if it is one of their theme parks, a hotel, cruise ship or one of their events. Every one of those items revolves around fun and family, as well as some other principles (we call these brand cornerstones). And, over the years, as Disney repeatedly delivers a fun experience for the family, that is when the brand truly comes to life and the magic happens.
Just think to when you look at the Disney logo (or hear the Disney name), that brand is so powerful that the customer’s mind immediately positions Disney as a “brand” that is a fun and family place where laughter and magic happen regularly. Without this experience and expectation a logo is just a logo, a name is just a name, and neither of them mean a thing other than something to call a company by. With the experience over time, the logo and name becomes the beacon to deliver the brand and expectations.
Another way to think about what a brand is would be for me to simply say two words and then let your mind go to work: Rolls Royce. Rolls Royce doesn’t advertise much anymore. And, when they do it is to a very finite crowd. However, over the years they have carefully maintained their brand to be the epitome of quality and luxury where people still use their brand as the high water mark for the brand cornerstones – “It’s the Rolls Royce of XYZ.”
What Does it all Mean?
Regardless of your company’s size, be diligent about consistently promoting your brand. In many cases a brand is a company’s most valuable asset. Many of these national acquisitions are built on acquiring the brand awareness that another company has already built. In fact, Nielsen Ratings did a study in 2015 that found 59% of all buyers preferred buying from a brand they knew for a new product. Paying a little bit of attention to your brand now and along the way will have lasting benefits.