Some companies think branding is frivolous. They see branding as another way to say “logo,” and, quite frankly, they aren’t impressed. They ignore branding and focus on the key activities that first generated revenue for their organization.
They do so at their company’s peril, in part because marketers have overcomplicated what a brand is, what it means and why it’s important.
Don’t think your organization has a brand? Then ask your stakeholders what the competition says about you.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Oftentimes, when you’re not in the room, your competition is.
Research is important and being strategic is something we preach over and over again on this blog, but the truth is we overcomplicate brands. Your brand is, ultimately, the few things that make you either famous or infamous. If it’s something good, it’s what your competition’s marketing is chipping away at. If it isn’t good, either your competition is reinforcing it or just ignoring you altogether.
Smart brands – like your competition – know how to promote and position their brands. Smart brands clearly define problems, offer solutions that benefit their audience and encourage repeat relationships. Brands are proxies for value. It’s your job to shape the value of your brand.
That’s why it is so important to define your brand. We recommend writing everything down in a “Brand Bible” that includes not just your visual identity, but your brand’s message, voice and tone as well. We’re seeing a lot of clients start their marketing efforts with a brand book that puts them on the right foot from day one.
Once you have a Brand Bible, make it a central part of your organization’s work. Consider the brand in your strategic planning. Train team members on the brand’s message. Your brand is a measure of the public’s trust in your organization. With that in mind, it should be considered at all levels of the institution.
If you’re not defining your brand, then you’re essentially dooming yourself to fail. It takes repeated, regular and strategic effort to shape your organization’s brand. If you have multiple employees, they need to be speaking with the same voice, consistently.
Likewise, your competition’s brands can tell you quite a bit about the efficacy of your brand. Is everyone else promoting speed because that’s the benefit customers want? Or are they missing a big opportunity?
Your branding work should consider both your competition and your audience. If it doesn’t – and it simply just defines who you are and not what makes you different – your brand will always struggle to have the effectiveness it needs to be successful.
But a brand that is customer-focused and self-aware – it knows what the competition is saying about it and it has answers – is much more likely to be successful.
So, what’s the big picture here? It’s that your brand is valuable, and your competition already knows that. If you don’t take the time to shape your brand, your brand will start shaping your results.
D. White & Company is a marketing consulting firm that helps organizations build successful brands. Want us to help define your brand? Schedule an appointment with us today.