How should you define your brand?

The concept of branding is a confusing topic that many seasoned marketers don’t even clearly understand. What is a brand? What is branding? It seems like a simple question, but the answer is anything but simple. If you find your brand confusing, so will your customers. The last thing you want to do is waste time and money by developing a weak brand.

Simplicity is fundamental to a successful brand.

The word ”brand” has many different interpretations. The most obvious associations for people unfamiliar with branding are the brands they see in supermarkets and the clothing brands they buy in shops. The brand also applies in increasingly diverse ways. Governments, politicians, newspapers and pop stars are referred to as ”brands”. The media and design consultancies also refer to logos as ”brands”. There is an overwhelming tendency to think of the visual representation of a product or service as the brand.

The vision is a sense of the future in which any object of value from computers to cargoes can be tracked at minimal cost. The values can be built around such ideas as honesty, innovation, partnership, and professionalism. Brands only properly exist in the minds of consumers and represent the totality of experience. Thus the brand is as much about internal understanding, as external communications. The logo is only the tip of the iceberg. The use of branding terminology helps to remind the organization that its raison d’être is to deliver value to buyers and other stakeholders.

The ”brand idea” is itself communicated through three key mechanisms:

  • the nature of marketing communications,
  • employees’ interpretations of the identity
  • the nature of the products and services.

According to Nicholas Ind, a brand definition should be:

a. memorable

one of the main failings of brand definitions is that they are overly complex. It is only the obvious and memorable that really gets used. The rest we ignore. This also applies to the number of value words that the group defines. Employees will not use 12 or 15 words. They can understand and remember six words – although three or four is preferable.

memorable idea brand

b. true

you should be trying to focus on what is true for the organization.

brand truth

c. all-encompassing

the definition should work for all parts of the organization and all levels of the hierarchy.

all e compassing brand

d. reinforcing

this relates to the idea of truth. Most organizations have things that are fundamental to their success. The brand should make those success factors explicit. Thus, if creativity is the bedrock of the organization, the brand statement should emphasize this.

reinforcing brand

e. aspirational

although wishful thinking is not what we aim for, the brand idea should propel the organization forwards to meet its goals. There should be an element of aspiration; of stretching people; of creating organizational tension.

aspirational brand

f. differentiating

this should happen naturally if the group adheres to the above principles. There is little point in differentiating the organization for the sake of it. Remember, these words and phrases are for internal consumption. They are not advertising slogans. The process of differentiation will happen as a result of commitment and sincerity.

differentiating brand

It seems it’s easier to talk about the brand than to live it. Living the brand requires commitment and sincerity and that means it has to permeate the whole organization. Whoever the original brand owner is – whether it is the CEO, the board, the marketing department or human resources – they need to share the idea of the brand with the organization. Managing the brand is a long-term process, which suggests that the brand idea needs to enter the systems of the organization rather than being the crusade of a lone individual. 11 Digits team is here to help you create and manage your own brand!

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