Posted on 2-11-13:
Branding is not a logo! Look at the logo in this photo. There is not one thing special about it and yet, it contains one of the strongest brands in the U.S. It evokes an entire era and it has personality.
Developing a brand is about being real. How is a brand classified in the mind of the consumer? Environmentally responsible? High value? Easy? Trustworthy? Effective? Exclusive? Traditional? Trendy? Loveable? Yes, lovable. Getting your customer to associate terms like these with your company takes thought and effort and a good does of reality.
Your brand should be layered into every marketing channel available. It isn’t just colors … it is personality. Are you high-end retail that appeals to high-end customers? Then make certain your marketing material does not scream tacky.
If you are Starbucks, then you are green, responsible, fair trade and patriotic … and it better be present in everything you do because your customer, your client, your people – personally identify with that brand. Personally identifying means your customers are also green, responsible, fair trade and patriotic. Buying Starbucks reinforces their self-image. If it were ever discovered that Starbucks was actually a soulless corporation, then its customers would be more than disappointed, they would be betrayed. Keeping a brand real is important because to millions of customers, it is very real and they support it with their money and their loyalty.
Famous people, especially political figures, have the same branding issues. Why did the audience cheer when Charlie Sheen walked onto the Tonight Show stage last week? If he has done nothing else, Charlie Sheen has been true to his own brand. When your brand becomes confused, there is epic failure. When people lie about there own brand, there is epic failure. Being real is vital.
A brand is everything: what you say, the way your ad looks, how your radio spot sounds, how your phone is answered, what you post on twitter, and on and on. A brand is everything and that is why it has to be real. When the brand isn’t real or if there is a disconnect between what is real and what is marketing, the results are disastrous. And the bigger the budget; the bigger the potential failure.
Bottom line? Brands live in the space between the fibers of a company and in the hearts and minds of people. The more real the brand – the bigger the success. Brands have to be real or everyone will recognize them for what they are: fake.