What is a brand and why do I need one for my business?
A brand is a ‘visual shorthand’ for all that a business or product stands for – a symbol of differentiation.It encapsulates and conveys every aspect of the business or product it represents and the beliefs of its owners.
It is a complex value system in which both customers and consumers place great faith and trust with its values extending way beyond the intrinsic value of a product and therefore a brand must be in harmony with the equities of the product it represents.
Today every product sector is crowded and highly competitive. This is where brands come to the fore, acting as a visual semaphore wherever they are seen or heard.
Shape, colour, form, tone of voice all aid instant recognition and great brands achieve this recognition and memorability more easily than their competitors, but how?
In my daily life as a brand strategist I spend most of my timethinking about people, cultures, trends and storytelling.
Storytelling is one of the most amazing achievements of mankind – the ability to hand down history, events, both factual and fiction from generation to generation and to excite and amaze those who share it.
Long before we could read and write, stories were told through symbols and our ability to recognise symbols quickly and easily is deep in our psyche.
A successful brand works very much in the same way, taking a complicated story and translating it into a succinct, powerful and engaging string of symbols, shapes and colours which equally excites and amazes those who share it and which ultimately creates a change in behaviour.
This change can be relational or commercial but it’s important to understand that a brand exists in our minds or it doesn’t exist at all. Hence brands are created to satisfy our needs, thinking and desires.
Just as a great book, play, film, or piece of music excites us in a way that is hard to define and describe, great brands work in the same way, creating a strong emotional link with its audience.
A brand may be an icon, a symbol, a collection of symbols or words, but all great brands have four things in common: they behave differently, they’re memorable, consumers value them and they will choose them over and above their competitors.
Because brands work on an emotional level we focus on their intangible attributes – not the physical equities of the business or product but how people feel about their relationship with them, it is these connections that are at the very heart of great brands.
Because brands promise consistency of experience and guarantee satisfaction they are a vital part of any modern-day business. They shape what a business produces and sells and how their people think and work each and every day.
Every brand has two facets – those viewed by its owners and those viewed by its consumers.
Great brands seamlessly mould these two facets so that each reinforces the other – hence do great businesses have great brands or is it that great brands have great businesses?
The two of course are indistinguishable but the power of great brands is undisputed.
Creating a new brand may seem a significant investment but if it results in a 10% increase in productivity or a 12% increase in sales that investment can be rapidly repaid.
I am lucky to see the impact my work has had on many businesses, how it has enabled them to attract the best people in their sector or to gain market share or to increase the price of their goods whilst others are decreasing theirs.
All of these are the outcomes for real clients who have seen first-hand the value of a great brand and how their story continues to be told and enjoyed by all who share it.
Filed under: Brand Strategist
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