It’s not uncommon for a fellow business owner to look at my logo and say, “That’s a great brand!” What they were really saying was, “I like your logo!” You really can’t create a brand in Photoshop, even if you add a slogan. Both can be valuable parts of your overall image, but your brand is something entirely different.
Your Brand Is Not…
A logo. Your logo is a visual reinforcement of your brand. A symbol. It’s important to strategically choose colors, fonts and a design style that capture the essence of your business and grab the attention of your target audience, but a nifty logo with no substance behind it is useless. You know what they say about putting lipstick on a pig.
A slogan. More often than not, your slogan is a catchy line that gets people to remember who you are and what you do. An effective slogan might offer a glimpse into your brand. One of the most memorable slogans of all time, AT&T’s Reach Out And Touch Someone, did a phenomenal job at capturing the emotion of a personal phone call. The warm and fuzzy jingle didn’t hurt either. As successful as that slogan was, it wasn’t AT&T’s brand. Actually, the goal of that slogan and campaign at the time was to soften AT&T’s image amid growing concerns of a monopoly.
Your Brand Is…
A promise. It’s a promise to solve a specific problem or fill a specific need for your target audience. This promise should shine through everywhere and in every way that your business interacts with your target audience – conversations in person or by phone, emails, text messages, social media posts, or any type of marketing. When you fulfill this promise consistently, your brand becomes the foundation of the long-term relationships, both emotional and psychological, that you build between your company and your target audience.
Your Brand Does…
Create perceptions. At the end of the day, your business is only as good as the public perceives it to be. Positive perceptions can take you to new heights. Negative perceptions, accurate or not, can doom any business. This is why it’s so important to deliver on your promise to every single client, and if you ever fall short, make it up to them to reward their loyalty and maintain that positive perception. The way you correct a mistake can sometimes leave a stronger impression than a flawless transaction – but do yourself a favor and shoot for the flawless transaction.
Set expectations. First and foremost, your brand gives people the expectation of a result that they anticipate experiencing after purchasing your product or service. Remember, people don’t care about your business until you’ve shown them how your business can make their lives better. That said, your brand also sets an expectation of what it will be like to do business with you. By living up to these expectations, you build trust, strengthen relationships and give people a reason to care about your business.
Give people a reason to choose you. How will you solve a problem or fill a need in a way that’s different, better or more appealing than your competition? Obviously, other factors will contribute to someone ultimately deciding to business with you, like customer service, value, price and the effectiveness of your marketing. But your brand – your promise – should be at the core of your customer service, convey real value, justify your price and provide the foundation of your marketing message.
As you analyze, evaluate and fine tune your business model, think about what your brand really means – not just to you, but to your target audience. After all, when it comes to shaping your brand, they have just as much of a say as you do, if not more.
What are your thoughts about what a brand is, what it isn’t, and what it does?