What’s the Big Deal About Branding? (part two)

June 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

Branding. No, not the hot iron kind on an animal’s behind (ouch! ~ do they still do that?), but marketing’s buzz-word of buzz-words.

As with many notions that take the spotlight ~ often becoming overused, diffused and diluted ~ one has to question it at some point. It’s never wise to take popular culture at face value, or hear a fancy phrase and automatically buy in. To borrow from the now old-fashioned new-age-speak, first it has to “resonate”. If it resonates, I’ll pay attention.

So, what IS the big deal about branding?

First of all, your brand is what I like to call your visual voice. It’s what you bring to market over and over and over. It’s how you’re identified, and yes, judged. It can, in effect, be the life or death of your business.

Egyptian Scales of Judgment

If you read “What’s the Big Deal About Branding? (part one)”, you got some of my thoughts on why it’s important. Namely, the pull and power of consistency and integrity ~ two key qualities that provide a valuable backdrop, a kind of moral yardstick for your business, while serving as a clear window for your audience to understand what you’re about.

Take a red target image for example. “Target” stores easily come to mind. It’s a consistent, steady symbol – exhibiting visual integrity. And that’s very good.

But take it a step further. If your experience at Target is repeatedly a good one, they’ve just about buttoned up the integrity piece, because you, the customer, feels confident, “safe and secure”. Trust has been earned; integrity deepens.

There are hundreds of similar examples. Like Mercedes, Nike, The Morton’s Salt girl. They’re consistent, identifiable, they stand for something, and the customer knows what that something is … and … there is trust.

So here’s the thing: imagery and words alone do not make a brand “work” … Three fundamental things feed into your success: your product, your service and your brand. One without the other will leave things flat (or send them spinning out of control) ~ but in tandem, goals are attainable. Basically:

  • If you’ve got a great product, but poor service, expect trouble.
  • With great service, but a bad product, good intentions won’t matter.
  • If you’ve got a great branding scheme, but a poor product or poor service, people are going to catch on – and move on.
  • A great product and great service, but a mixed-up brand message, creates confusion. Confusion is loss.

But when all three elements come together, singing the same song, in harmony, you’ve got strong branding and a heck of a better chance at success.

The wrapping on the package is that all three ~ product, service and “brand”  (your visual voice) ~ are your branding, and any business, marketer or designer worth their weight should consider all three in brand development. Ask the questions to find the commonality. Keep those 3 elements consistent, and integrity follows. And where integrity lives, people want to hang around.

© Patricia Saxton

Next up: Authenticity. Stay tuned.

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