Saturday, April 19, 2014

Going on a Date [What is Branding]

Someone wise [it is disputed who] once said, “There are no second chances for first impressions.” 

I was recently asked, "What is branding, really?" It got me thinking about those first impressions and what branding really means. 

For many, this is simply understood. But sometimes as marketers and designers, we forget that not all business owners sat through traditional marketing classes, nor comes from the marketing realm. To them, branding is often a logo and company name. It has little value, and less appeal for the marketing budget. It is a lofty idea with little concrete data to back it up.

"What? You want to spend how much on a campaign just to put our name out there??? There is no call to action. There is no measurable ROI." 

Branding is like dating. And when someone questions the merits of branding, I usually explain it as such. 

I ask him [or her] to think of one of his probably awkward and uncomfortable first dates. It was awkward and uncomfortable because he was nervous. He wanted to make a good first impression. He wanted his date to like him, to be impressed by him, to be attracted to him and to be interested in learning more about him. Add to that pressure, he wanted to like his date as well. 

So how did he present himself? How did he introduce himself? What did he wear? What did he talk about? What body language did he use? Did he remind himself to smile a lot? How did he plan on paying for the date? What impression did he want to give off? How did the night end? Was there a second date? 

Most people do think of branding as a logo. And yes, a company’s logo is part of branding, but brand is so much more. It’s a company's entire identity. A brand is how the phone is answered, how a customer is greeted, the persona on social media channels, what employees dress like - every “touch” a customer has with the company. 

Each time a potential new customer is introduced to a business, the business is going on a first date with that potential customer. So how do you want your business to look? To act? 

If you have a clear branding strategy, if you have defined ideas of what you want to portray, and your employees understand this brand, you are going to be putting your best foot forward every time a potential customer sees you. 

The ultimate goal of your brand is to impress that customer enough for a second date, a third, and eventually a “marriage” - a relationship between your brand and that customer which is exclusive. 

Start thinking of your brand as the entire company identity. And brush up on your dating skills. 

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 photo credit: Instant Vantage on flickr

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