What is a Brand?

Monday is for Marketing

what is a brand, brandingBranding is often a mysterious concept to small business owners. When I ask groups what a brand is I typically hear answers like “a logo,” “a symbol,” or “a name.” While those things are usually part of a branding process, they are not what define a brand.

A “brand” is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers.

Strong brands elicit thoughts, emotions, and responses from the customer. They are rooted in the “promise” and the “experience” customers have with the company, product, and/or service. What do people think of when they think about you and your company? What do they feel? What actions or behaviors do they engage when they encounter you? That’s your brand! When a brand elicits a strong response it is considered valuable. Some of the most valuable U.S. brands include:
  • Google – Valued at $48.2 billion
  • Apple – Valued at $39.3 billion
  • Microsoft – Valued at $39 billion
(These values were taken from the September 2011, Brand-Finance Global 100.)

How do you brand your company?

You must start by asking, “How do my customers perceive and experience our company?” It takes courage to talk to them and ask them this question because you may not like what you hear. But do it! Find out how they really perceive you. Next ask yourself, “What is my promise?” What do you promise your customers? What kind of experience do you promise they will have? How well do you fulfill your promise? What do you need to do to improve on your promise and your customer experience? Many small business owners want to quickly start working on a logo, a design, an advertising campaign, or a website. Colors, fonts, and symbols are important but first you need to get clear on your mission, your promise, and your customer experience. These are the things that create an emotional and psychological relationship with your company. Major on these things! And if you do, your visual elements (e.g. logo, design, etc.) will simply be a reminder to your customers about what they think and how they feel about you!

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