This blog post is by guest contributor The Brand Ascension Group, LLC. You’ll learn the importance of branding, of which your trademark is but a part of the overall brand experience perceived by your customer.
When most think of the term Branding they often associate it with the term Marketing or in some cases a cattle ranch. When they think of the term brand, generally an image or a symbol such as a logo, or a tagline come to mind. In fact, none of these associations are truly accurate. This is one of the most confused issues in business today. Knowing the difference can translate to leveraged growth.
Marketing vs. Branding
Marketing is the act of communicating or disseminating the message of your brand. It is all about the creative vehicles you use to leverage the message to your market (e.g., electronic or advertisements, PR, print.) Branding is the process of creating and living the message of your brand. If your message isn’t clearly defined with a consistent process in place that reflects and affirms it, then your marketing dollars will be wasted and squander valuable budgets in the process. The process of building your brand starts at the internal level of the business (i.e., how your employees and culture cultivate the message and ultimately serve the client), not in an external ad. Our advice? Stop marketing, at least for now. And, start branding. Your challenge: Make a conscious effort to get crystal clear on a specific message you want to convey to your customers and train and empower your staff to deliver it relentlessly.
Think about all the facets of your business; from your values and behaviors, your brand promise, to how you deliver your products and services. All of these are integral to morphing a good brand into a great brand! To show up in a conscious way that builds and sustains your brand, three key attributes must be in place: Relevance, Consistency and Distinctiveness.
Why Focus on Relevance?
Brand RELEVANCE is matching and satisfying YOUR internal and external messages and values to YOUR brand promise.
How do you show up in a RELEVANT way when delivering on the promise you commit both internally and externally to your customers? Do your customers care about the same things you care about?
How relevant is Wal-Mart® to its customers? Their tagline: Always, Low Prices, Always! What about Best Buy®? Relevance is explicit in their name? They provide the best price or the best value for the deal. Their name is relevant to the internal/external behavior and promise they deliver with each product and customer transaction.
Your authenticity must be consistently congruent with your core values, not everyone else’s. So take some time to list your top 6 core values.
Consistency = Trust
Brand CONSISTENCY is showing up the same way every time, walking the talk and being true to your brand promise. Why is Consistency so important to sustaining your successful brand? What it boils down to is one simple word: Trust.
Honesty is expected. Trust is engaging and intimate. It needs to be earned. Honesty is required to be in business today…Trust is something else altogether. It is one of the most important values of a brand and it requires real effort from corporations.*
How you show up consistently in the various facets of your business…from how you answer the phone, to what customers see, hear, taste, touch, smell and intuit must be congruent with your promise.
Oprah is the “Queen” of consistency. Thirty million people totally trust her. One initiative through Oprah’s Angel Network generated $12.1MM in donations for children in South Africa. No one would donate that kind of money if they did not trust Oprah and expect that she would consistently follow through on her promise.
Even You Can Create Distinctiveness!
What is the one word you “own” in the mind's eye of your market that distinguishes your brand from others?
Brand DISTINCTIVENESS means you stand out uniquely and unequivocally different than your competition both internally and externally while being congruent with your Brand Promise.
What makes Fed Ex so distinctive in their industry is their “unrelenting commitment” to deliver. Google has transformed the experience of browsing on the internet, and Amazon and eBay with their unique approaches to e-business.
Stop Marketing and Start Branding!
Make sure your brand’s message is crystal clear and authentic to your core values.
Empower every employee to understand and live your Brand Promise.
Capitalize on creating RELEVANT, CONSISTENT and DISTINCTIVE customer experiences.
Creating and living the brand message cannot be over emphasized. Branding is a powerful lever for any business when it is approached in a conscious, strategic and holistic way to show up relevantly, consistently and distinctively in every way.
*Marc Gobé, Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People, 2001, p. xxix
© 2008 The Brand Ascension Group, LLC