By: Abe Kasbo
My high school football coach once grabbed my ear right after I intercepted a pass and returned it upfield dodging and weaving for about 30 yards. As this freshman strutted to the sidelines brimming with confidence, coach grabbed my face mask and looked in as if he was searching for my brain and said, “this is a football son, not a loaf of bread. So protect it when you’re runnin’. Tuck it in, hold it tight, it’s what you’re supposed to do…”
Businesses talk about protecting their brand, building their brand, delivering on their brand promise and that what you’re supposed to do. But it’s easier said than done. A successful brand is not an activity, logo, tagline, sales pitch, website. It is a consequence of a combination of many elements about your business – good or bad I might add! And yes, a brand can have a bad reputation!
So let’s unravel this brand thing and look at its DNA. Brands don’t simply happen. We often hear, “we need brand our business,” but when we ask these businesses what they mean by this, they often talk about logos or advertising related activities…which are certainly elements of a branding campaign, but by far in and of themselves do not deliver the power of a successful brand. And so we define brands as consequences rather than activities.
According to Tim Ambler of the London Business School, “A brand is the promise of a bundle of attributes that someone buys that provides satisfaction. The attributes may be tangible or invisible, rational or emotional.” I submit that a brand also has time and experiential elements. Like good wine, it must stand the test of time. And because of communications technologies, people today are exposed to products and information faster than ever, thereby providing the opportunity for business to capitalize on the experiential factor rather than time – and certainly each strategy depends on the type of business or product.
Starting with the basics, ask your self the following questions:
1. What does my business do to engender customer loyalty?
2. Will my clients recommend me?
3. Can my clients take pride in my service(s) or product(s)?
4. What is the value of my product or service to the marketplace?
5. Will my clients forgive my mistakes?
If you answer the basic four questions above, and undoubtedly there are more, you will begin your brand journey…and it is a journey that will take you through time by demanding consistency both in communications to the market and service / product.
So by viewing branding as a consequence of everything you do rather than a single activity, your business can pursue and implement branding strategies that are appropriate for the life cycle of your business…