A Brand can be described as a product, service, business, company or organization having a personality
shaped by the perceptions of their audience. "Perception" is key here. A brand is not what you're trying to present.
A brand is what people perceive, what they think and feel in regards to this personality
based on what they see, hear, read on your website, in the news, etc. The brand conveys company's values. And as Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks said:
If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
In the long run the Brand is the strongest asset that you can ever build. Much stronger than any ad or marketing campaign can ever provide. It's your way to not just winning clients, but loyal customers and often even fans of your company.
If you understand a brand this way then you must understand that it is not something you can have or not. You can't stop people from having feelings and opinions about your products or services. But you can do a lot to influence what these perceptions are.
The brand starts with the design
The design you choose for your company is the starting point:
Paul Rand, an American art director and famous graphic designer, best known for his corporate logo designs, including the logos for IBM, UPS, Enron, Morningstar, Inc., Westinghouse, ABC, and NeXT said:
Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.
The user experience specialist, Kate Kaplan, said:
Brand is the holistic sum of customers’ experiences, composed of visual, tonal and behavioral brand components, many of which are shaped by interaction design.
A designer can help you design your brand identity. It is an image of a company. It's made up of many visual elements, including:
- A logo - the most important building block, a symbol of the entire identity and brand.
- Stationery (letterhead, business card, envelopes, etc.) - what you share with people and how you style the elements that you use to contact them.
- Marketing collateral (flyers, brochures, catalogs, books, websites, etc.) - what you use to present your message and when running marketing campaigns.
- Other visual elements that represent the business, product or service and help build brand awareness and brand recognition (packaging, labels, car wraps, etc).
All of these represent a brand's identity and should support the brand as a whole - consistently. Designed with care they help you craft and send a consistent message. This consistency is one of the factors that build the brand over time.
But of course it doesn't end there. It's a continuous process of building perceptions.
How do successful business owners understand a brand?
If you analyze the stories of the most successful movers of the business world you'll see that the most significant factor that is greatly responsible for their success is their ability to build and consequently maintain an exceptional brand.
A successful brand is the driving force that has propelled many of our favorite billionaires from startup phase to the top of the food chain. Below are a few quotes from them:
Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon.com:
Your brand is what other people say about your business when you're not in the room.
A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.
David Aaker, an American organizational theorist, consultant, professor and specialist in marketing:
Branding adds spirit and a soul to what would otherwise be a robotic, automated, generic price-value proposition. If branding is ultimately about the creation of human meaning, it follows logically that it is the humans who must ultimately provide it.
Seth Godin, an American author and former dot com business executive:
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another.
Brand is a shortcut, it’s a shortcut for all the expectations I have for what you’re about to do for me. It’s a shortcut for trust, for promises, for conversations.
Elon Musk, a technology entrepreneur, investor, and engineer. CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Inc.:
Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.
Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group:
Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealized, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character and no public trust.
Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.
Donald Trump, President of The Trump Organization:
If your business is not a brand, it is a commodity.
Lisa Gansky, an American entrepreneur and author:
A brand is a voice and a product is a souvenir.
Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway:
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.
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