Are these brands or logos? (Courtesy of search-this.com)
What is a brand? How does one understand the art and science of branding in the digital driven age?
First, a brand is not a logo. Certainly, logos represent one dimension in the embodiment of corporate or product brands. However, they are just a visual representation and a signpost rather than the true meaning of the brand itself.
A brand is not an advertisement. Like other marketing channels, ads can help to convey your brand promise and the essence of what your brand is about. However, spending heavily on advertising alone will not help to build a strong brand.
A brand is also not about groovy graphics, delightful designs or amazing aesthetics. While an inspired looking annual report, “wow!” website or salubrious store layout helps to improve one’s perception of a brand, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of brands.
Oh and very importantly, a brand isn’t just a corporate ego exercise. It isn’t just an airy fairy concept that is conceived by an organisation’s executives and managers with the aim of impressing it’s stakeholders. The moral of the story: don’t do it for yourself.
So what is a brand then?
A brand is about one’s emotional and mental influence on stakeholders. Its the sum of how much your company, product or service can seat itself deep within the psyche of your customers. The more influence you have on your target audience’s decisions, the better.
A brand doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to them. The greatest and most well known brands in the world are appropriated, adored and adulated by their customers. We call them raving fans.
A brand is about how they receive, respond and resonate. It is about how stakeholders absorb, understand and internalise your brand essence, act on it in a favourable way, and spread the message to their peers and contacts.
Finally, a brand is about the holistic experience. It happens from the time they first saw or heard your advertisement, called your sales staff, visited your shop, and surfed your website to the time they purchased your product or consumed your service. It is the complete suite of feelings – good or bad – which envelop your customers during every touch-point. From pre-purchase to consumption to post-purchase.