What is a Brand?
A brand is more than just a logo or a name. A brand is the way in which a company, service, experience, organisation or product is perceived by its customers, employees, investors and anyone who comes in contact with it. Defining your brand is choosing who you want to be and what you want to be recognised and remembered for. Think about your story. How did you get to where you are now? Try to define your why - why do you do what you do? A well-articulated brand must be able to communicate this in order to establish trust with their consumers.
Your brand is your promise
A common misconception is that a logo is a brand. This could be due to the origins of the term brand, which by the 17th century referred to a mark of ownership made by the process of branding, particularly in the livestock and farming industry. Branding eventually evolved from farmers claiming animals as their property, to craftsmen claiming credit for their work. This continued with factories claiming their products and ultimately to companies claiming their products, and then claiming that their products were the best on the market. But a brand is more than just a logo, and in fact a brand is more than just any tangible object that a company produces. A brand is the gut feeling a person has towards a company or service - a perception that exists in the mind of the consumer. To simplify it further, a brand could be defined as a ‘promise’. For instance, when a consumer sees the logo of a brand, to them, there is an implied promise (often based on the brand’s advertising or the consumer’s previous experiences with the brand). Whilst most brands have identified “the promise” they aim to impart, this promise is entirely subjective to the consumer.
Your brand is your reputation
To put it simply; a brand is a perception, and perceptions are malleable. Much like reputations, perceptions can take a lot of time and hard work to form and strengthen. That’s why it is important to get your branding right and make sure you are on the right track from the beginning. It is equally important to ensure you are talking to the right people from the moment you start to tell your story, as your target market are the ones you want to focus and develop your story towards. It is integral to establish trust at the beginning of the relationship with your consumers, as trust is one of the key foundations of loyalty. Just like with reputations, perceptions are easier to damage than they are to create, so it is vital to a brand’s success that trust is not broken, and if it is, that the right steps are taken to remedy the issues.
Your brand defines your value
Although they are intangible by nature, brands should also be considered as a business tool with the potential to drive and define commercial value. For example, think of Microsoft. What is the Microsoft Brand? It is much more than the office computers we have all become so familiar with since their inception, or the range of Surface devices that have given rise to a new market category in recent years. It is much more than the stylish and minimalistic advertising that they use to drive sales of their Surface books and tablets. Even the Microsoft name and the iconic Windows logo don’t encompass what we mean when we discuss the Microsoft brand. The answer is that the Microsoft brand isn’t any one thing. As we mentioned before, the Microsoft brand is the perception that exists in the mind of the consumer, the reason Windows accounts for an estimated 89% of all computer usage. But they didn’t start out that way; they had to establish and build on their perception. This shows how a strong brand can increase the chances of consumers picking your product or service rather than the products or services of your competitors.
A brand is like a person. It’s not just about how you look, it’s about how you speak, how you react to the world around you, and the choices you make. Perceptions, much like reputations, are hard to earn but easy to destroy. Simply stating that you are fun and approachable does not make you fun and approachable, but rather is decided by the way others perceive you.