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Branding: Part Two of a Series

What it really is.

This week’s Marketing Brief is the second of a multi-part series on Branding: What it is, what it isn’t, what it can do for you, how to implement a branding project, and a case study on a successful, real world branding program.

Later in the series: How this furry creature strengthened a brand.

Branding is the foundation for all successful marketing. A brand is the combined set of impressions and expectations that a consumer has as a result of interactions with a company, including its products, its services and its advertising and overall marketing. Everything you say and do establishes your brand. It is the heart and soul of an organization. Real branding is memorable; it answers the question, “Who are we?” It centers on uniqueness and dramatic difference; it evokes passion and emotion. It touches every part of a firm 24/7.

Good branding acts like a friend who refers someone to a business and/or its products and services. With a well-managed brand, the trust that comes from consistently delivered communications and experiences can feel much the same way as advice from a trusted friend. One believes that the experience will be what was promised … today and in the future.

Every business and organization has a brand. If a company renders inferior service, and is not responsive to its customers’/clients’ needs, then that is its brand.  Everything you say and do establishes your brand. If you are not aware of your brand and you don’t manage it effectively, your customers and competitors will define it for you.

The last issue (#42) of the Roster Marketing Brief addressed the myths, misconceptions and definitions of branding. (Embarrassingly, even some advertising agencies don’t understand the concept). This week’s Brief takes a more positive look at branding, its purpose and value to any organization.

A branding (or re-branding) program starts internally, long before its appearance in public.  The advertising agency, acting as facilitator, leads a series of meetings to assess the current brand position, and then to help identify new branding goals.  These early meeting(s) is where we strive to reach unanimity, to persuade dissenters from majority opinions to embrace the group’s conclusions, because all successful brands represent the whole organization, and not just the views of some managers and directors. We must speak with one voice. That’s the real strength of a great brand.

Branding is the heart and soul of an organization. It has little to do with logos and advertising and everything to do with deep company commitment, culture and behavior.

Branding is personal; it’s about integrity. And it’s consistent.

In upcoming issues in this branding series, we’ll provide an outline for assessing your current brand position and for developing a strong, effective new brand strategy.

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