03 Oct 2013

5 Things a Brand is Not

What do you think of when you think “brand”?

Too often we misuse the term brand and branding. Ask around. Ask your coworkers. How did they define your company’s brand?

There is always a lot of confusion as to what a brand is that it is easiest to begin with what a brand is not.

So here is what a brand is not.

A brand is not…the name of the company. This is typically the first thing that people learn about your company. You certainly hope they remember it and that that name becomes a positive association with your brand. But the name is not the brand.

The name is often a big part of the first impression. So pick a good one.

A brand is not…the logo. Most often I hear people mistakenly refer to their logo as their brand. To be fair it is a highly prominent visual representation of the brand. You hope it reflects positively on what you are hoping to convey with your brand. Your hope is that it is memorable enough that customers can immediately identify it and associate it with your company.

A brand is not…your latest tagline. Witty and memorable it may be.

A brand is not…the image, or look and feel of your company.

A brand is not…your website. A website is where you reflect your marketing efforts to enhance the corporate identity. This is where people turn to learn more about you as a company, so it is important that it reflects and enhances your message and what you hope to establish as your brand.

A brand is not…determined or controlled by your customers. This is easy to lose sight of because consumers play an integral role in your brand. However, they do not control it, but they certainly influence it.

Every one of the above things that a brand is not does influence what your brand is. Each is part of the message.

So what is a brand?

A brand IS what you stand for. The promise you make to the consumer. As a result it doesn’t live on a label, or on a T-shirt. Your brand lives in people’s minds. And since it lives it people’s mind, the only way you can build a brand is through experiences.

Make sure every interaction is a positive, unique, and memorable. If it is, you will continue to build a strong brand. If it is the opposite and you create a poor experience then your brand will suffer.

It is not what you say it. It is what they say it is.

So, guide the message. And get them talking.