“You know why Madison Avenue advertising has never done well in Harlem? We're the only ones who know what it means to be Brand X.” -Dick Gregory
To understand branding you must first understand what marketing is. It may seem like a simplistic answer but it is true nonetheless; simply stated, marketing is everything you do to place your product or service in the hands of potential customers. Anything that you can imagine from packaging to pricing is a part of the marketing process.
So what is a brand? Let’s first take the word and its literal meaning. For centuries iron symbols were crafted with the initials or emblem of the owner of property – often cattle and other livestock. The iron symbols were heated until red-hot then pressed against the hide of the beast. This was, and is, called branding which was done to identify ownership.
There is a lot of talk about what branding is. Some say your brand is what other people say about your product or service. I prefer to think of that as brand reinforcement. No one creates a product and says I’ll let the public tell me what I have created. They may give it a nickname, but the identity of a thing comes from its creator. The word brand has come to mean “The Big Idea.”
Some people confuse a logo with the brand. This is understandable since originally, for all intents and purposes the branding I spoke of earlier was done with a symbol, initials or letters. These are often the components that make up a logo.
However, brand, as we know it today is not a logo. A logo is the tangible identity of a company in the market. Logos can be emblems, signs or symbols designed to portray the image of a company. So you see a logo (which is essentially a piece of art) is not a brand. However, it is integral to the brand.
One of the best definitions I have heard that describes a brand was given at a seminar I was a part of a few years ago given by a colleague, Tina Polite. She said that a brand is a promise. I like it for its simplicity and its profundity. The image that represents the brand sends a message to you. The promise in the case of McDonald’s is this: no matter where you go, under these golden arches you will find the burgers – and all that comes with them will always have the same consistent quality. It is an assurance of integrity.
A brand is about trust. It’s about what people expect to experience when they come into contact with your brand. It’s a perceived notion. It’s what they count on when they buy into your program.
Instead of putting resources into a logo, how about creatively finding ways to communicate the message, mission and qualities of your business? Think fewer objects and graphics, and more conversations and experiences. Focus not so much on image – and more about reality.
Remember this: Excellence is unmistakable. The world of business is hugely competitive and is comprised of thousands of logos. Out of those thousands, only a few survive to become famous. There are certain factors that make a logo successful.
Here are some tips on developing a logo:
· It must be legible.
· The color combination should be suitable for the company.
· It must be unique.
· It should project the image of the company.
· The logo should not be complicated or cluttered.
· It Must be cost effective and as simple as possible.
· The logo should be effective regardless of size.
· It should not contain any complicated images or photography.
Branding is another word for integrated marketing and the logo is part of that overall marketing campaign that builds a brand.
Branding is all about saying the same thing and communicating the same key message, over and over again – until it’s “branded” in someone’s brain.
The key thing about a logo – it doesn’t change. It can be repositioned or “updated” – but never changed. That would kill the equity you built in marketing the logo as part of your brand. When you create a new logo (or new tag line) you are starting over again.
It takes a long time build up substantial “brand equity” – don’t destroy it because you have a new idea. Stick with your logo, tagline and other elements you have set in place. You want to get to the point with your brand so that it is embedded into the subconscious minds of your audience.
When it is in the psyche of consumers, they will automatically connect a phrase or photo with you. When you hear a name – you get a mental picture or think of a quality. If I say, TD Jakes or Oprah – you have an idea of what to expect from those “brand names.” They are famous, true, but they are also a brand. And a brand translates in business into dollars. That’s the bottom line.
A good example is Nike’s “Just do it” campaign. That phrase and “swoosh” logo are their brand. Whether their shoes are better than others – well, that’s how you see it. But regardless, you’ll pay a premium price for their shoes because they’ve branded themselves that way.
Branding in business is about building an empire. What does your brand say about you? You can gage by checking sales figures. That is a good indication of how well your brand is doing.
I hope I have inspired you to step up your brand. In addition to gaining fame, recognition, stature and money – a good brand can make an impact and change lives. By having a good brand (or reputation), you can be a great influence in society. So take your brand seriously – it’s part of your purpose. It is your God-given assignment to get it right.
Bob Ivory is a brand strategist, graphic designer, conference speaker and media consultant. He is a strategic partner of Ministry Marketing Solutions and Pam Perry. For more information visit http://www.ivorycoastmedia.com/ or contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org
From the upcoming book--- Synergy Energy: How to Use the Power of Partnerships to Market Your Book, Grow Your Business and Brand Your Ministry by Pam Perry, Crystal & Anthony Obey (2009)
See http://www.PamPerryPRCoach.com too!