Marketing Guru Pro Series #2 |The art of a brand.

October 12, 2012

My second offering for you in the Marketing Guru Pro Series is about your BRAND! (Love the Wikipedia definition provided here, going back through history to branding cattle).

Branding has been on my mind of late because my current clients include a wonderful mix of start-ups, businesses who are approaching their next pinnacle of growth, and a few inspiring individuals who have left their powerful corporate positions and are reinventing themselves for a new chapter in their life. The majority of our work together has been on brand development. I thought I'd share with you some of the techniques I use to help guide my clients in this process. 
First, a refresher course: Remember those awkward teenage years in high school? When our lives were consumed with establishing ourselves or trying simply to fit in? We began honing our individual brand way back then, and became adept at unconsciously figuring others out at a glance as well. Admirably, some possessed that certain  je ne sais quoi, yes?

This is a good foundation for understanding what branding is all about. A brand is what you think and feel about a product, company or service in that split second that they enter your mind. A successful brand is one in which what you think is who they really are. Unfailingly.
Your company has a brand. And you have a brand as well. If you own a small company, or are a sole proprietor, then you are your brand. If you lead or work for a big company, the hope of every owner and board member is that you exemplify the company brand to your customers each and every day.
Consider some of the largest, most recognizable brands in the world. What do you think of when you see Nike? Southwest Airlines? Apple? Google? (which, by the way, is a sort of marketing nirvana when a company name grows to become the verb or  noun used in our everyday vernacular). These mega-brands have equally mega-budgets to put forth the type of messaging that permeates our brain while we sleep (Just do it!).
The real trick to successful branding (for the rest of us without mega-budgets) is when a company delivers all that they tell us they are in an effective, sincere, consistent way. That's when we, the customer, become brand-loyal, refusing to so much as look the other way at the competition.
In my most recent work, we focused on how the company (or individual) brand must truly resonate with all involved. There has to be harmony between the tangible and the intangible, otherwise the customer will sense something false, even if they can't put their finger on it.
Here is some more advice to consider:
1. What is your unique point of view or distinction?
2. How do you wish to be perceived?
3. How are you currently perceived?
4. Don't build your brand in a vacuum, objectively consider how you fit in the marketplace.
Then build out who you are with what you do and (this is most important) how you do it. As I always tell my clients, building a brand takes time. But every step along the way, counts.
Just as a customer will know if you aren't delivering true to your brand, there are a bunch of subtle ways you can develop your brand that will give you that certain je ne sais quoi. From the intangible, to the memorable. I call it the art of a brand.
Here's to you!  May your brand be clearly defined and as brilliant as you are.
Until next time.

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