Too many people selecting a brand is only that; it’s coming up with a clever logo and slogan and calling it a day. But that’s not what a brand is at all, that’s just well a symbol and a saying. A true brand defines exactly what your company is. What it stands for, what it represents. It is something that you live into so to speak. By this I mean that a true brand represents your company what it does and how it does it. In most cases it represents as well, how good it is.
So many people today are so focused on the book’s cover so to speak that they are not paying much attention to its contents. They think that just having the brand is enough; that just having the Face Book page is enough, that just tweeting is enough with no thought at all to what they are saying. Many times when you check their media out you will find them long on exposure in all the right places but short woefully short on content. And frankly I find this disturbing.
As a friend of mine said the other day, “the kids know how to deliver the message, they just have no real message to deliver and the old guys like us have all kinds a great messages but no idea how to deliver them.” It’s time we got together and figured out how to bridge the generation gap, get both age groups working together and do something that matters in a way that it matters…don’t you think?
Back to branding, your brand needs to have focus. It needs to represent fully just who your company is and exactly what it does.
Let’s think of same of the more famous brands for example; Think of what comes to mind when you see the famous Tiffany blue box; or the Apple logo; or the Mercedes Benz symbol. Don’t they all bring to mind Quality, luxury, top of their line the best in their class? Would you really buy a Mercedes if it was unmarked? Now think of other brands and what they represent to you. How about Southwest Airlines? What do you think about when you see their brand? What does it represent to you? I think of efficiency, I think customer focused, I think rebelliousness sort of the “anti-industry” airline, I think of cheap tickets and I also think of no assigned seats which I don’t really like but will out up with for the sake of the things I do like. Is that what you think of? Do you also take the good with a bit of the bad because the good is so good? Some people do and some don’t but at the end of the day most people do, at least enough people to make it a great company with a great brand.
The reason I bring up Southwest airlines is because the brand has some good and not so good attributes, but the point is that we as informed consumers know them and are willing to make our choice based on our understanding of what Southwest Airlines represents. Whatever our opinion we know that their brand is an honest one.
Now let’s think about the Apple brand. Right now the Apple brand is considered the most valuable brand in the world, maybe the history of the world. Oh I know all about Coke and Pepsi and yes they are valuable but let’s face it they are what we call in the biz “dowager brands” they have been around forever, and they don’t move us much anymore, they sure as hell don’t change the way we live anymore, not the way Apple does.
The Apple brand is so powerful that people line up to buy their overpriced new products whenever they are introduced. Their cult is so loyal that no matter what is said about the company they will still buy their products. Remember the first I-Phone? Everyone, everywhere knew that it had a terrible battery life but people didn’t care they still lined up to buy it. Remember the whole antenna fiasco? People didn’t care they still lined up to buy it; and now despite the whole Foxconn story and that fat guy sitting behind his table on a stage on Broadway bad mouthing the company, people are still lining up to buy their products. That is simply amazing; that is simply a tribute to a phenomenal corporate brand.
Now let’s turn to your company, what is your brand? What is it that defines your company, what makes your company stand out well above all of the others? To find your brand you have to think of the particular attributes that define your company, you have to ask questions like: Are you easy to work with? Are you reliable? Do your customers believe that you will always do they right thing? Are you always ready to make things right when something goes wrong? What about that, how do you recover when something goes wrong? Is your Quality the highest in the industry? Is your service legendary? What about your company culture, is yours a great place to work? Do you allow your people to be creative? Are you known as a leader in your industry? Think about these things. Put your mind to work, get it focused on exactly what it is your company stands for. Are you happy with the way your company is positioned at this time? Do you wish it were in a better position? Well make it happen, it is up to you right?
As Laurence Vincent states in his new book Brand Real: How smart companies live their brand promise and inspire fierce customer loyalty, “Brands should stand for something or they shouldn’t stand at all. Real brands make promises they intend to keep. This is as true for a brand that stands for a product as it is for a brand that stands for a person. Everything you may already understand about a brand-names, logos, advertising, package design, retail experiences, customer support etc-is really just an extension of that promise in action.”
So quickly now, what is your brand? What is it your company stands for? Before you go ahead and set up your new web site, your face book account, before you start that twittering you’d better figure that out. It’s only common se