January 24, 2018, posted by Tony Quin

Define Your Brand Before Someone Else Does

Brands are symbols. They serve as a shorthand for all of a consumer’s feelings and experiences; an easier way to navigate a world full of thousands of companies and products. Your logo, tagline, style guide and other visual elements are expressions of your brand, but they are not your brand.

A brand is the sum of all the ideas that define a product or company’s place in the world. Old school, brute force marketing had brands trying to shout louder than their competitors, pushing features and benefits, and using media money to pound out persuasion and trial.

The new school is very different: consumers are talking back. They want a brand they trust, with a purpose they believe in; a brand that reflects who they are, and that makes their life better and easier. And just for good measure they also want fantastic products and flawless service.

Consumers want to trust brands, but they are leery. That’s because we have entered a ‘trust but verify‘ world. Consumers listen to brand promises but don’t trust them until brands deliver on those promises. Many companies are already consciously doing this and reaping the rewards. They realize that if you can do the difficult things to deliver on your promises consistently, consumers will trust you. As Jeff Bezos of Amazon says, “You earn reputation by trying to do the hard things well.” One of the hard things is actively defining and creating your brand because if you don’t do it, someone else will do it for you–either your consumers or your competition. When you think about brands that seem to have lost their way, the list gets long pretty quickly. While their problems may be for many reasons, Nokia, Nintendo, Avon, Nescafe, Dell and J.C. Penny don’t have brands that are helping them.

There are three elements that need to be examined and crafted to form the foundation of a strong, healthy brand:

  • The Brand Promise – the value proposition of your product aligned with the values of your organization.
  • The Brand Personality – the unique style and character of the way you present your brand to the world
  • The Brand Identity – the integration of all the pieces of your brand into a cohesive whole

A unified, integrated brand today is a primary part of your marketing system. Without it, your marketing is all head and no heart. Consumers will not have a construct that is the repository of all the positive impressions and ideas that you earn over time.

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