Over the past week I have been working on a brand strategy for a client. It is the first step in creating a larger marketing plan, and traditionally where I begin. After all, if you don’t know what your brand stands for, then you really can’t market anything.
With every client I start out at the same point, emphasizing that a brand is not just a logo or a color scheme. I make sure they understand a brand is much more. It is every experience a customer may have with a company. It needs to be functional and emotional; intrinsic and original; active and intentional. Leading brands are championed by everyone and, therefore, meet compelling needs, create a premium, inspire loyalty and insulate against the competition. And more than anything else, leading brands are responsive. They respond to customers, competitors, the market and any other influence that can have an effect on the brand experience.
Creating a brand, and the strategy around it, is rife with challenges. Sometimes the biggest challenge is within the particular company itself. I have met with a lot of clients, as well as leaders at large, successful companies, who don’t get branding.
Why don’t they get it?
Because branding is anything but tangible. The process of building a brand can be extremely abstract and metaphysical. It’s the part of business development where perception reigns supreme. Consumers are not rational. They follow their instincts and are driven by a hundred different factors at once. Successful branding has to be one step ahead of consumer perception. And the leading brands are very adept at this.
Branding is a Business Process
Where some chief executives and business owners can’t see themselves spending more than a few minutes picking logo colors (the full extent of their brand strategy), others know that branding is a business process.