Back in our nation’s Wild West days, cattlemen branded their herds with a hot iron that showed a simple mark, like their initials or even their name, to help them lay claim to ownership over their cattle or other livestock. That tradition continues even now in some areas of the country.
Today branding is a business buzzword bandied about more than ever. If we take a moment and think about the word’s origins, it will help us understand how important brand truly is in our highly competitive business environment where standing out can be a challenge.
So what does having a brand mean and why is it important?
Establishing yourself, your company and your product or service requires you clearly identify who you are by articulating your story to potential clients and customers. It requires a brand that will help put all of that together in an easily explained way.
Your brand is centered on several core components working together including your name, your emblem or logo, your mission statement, and your culture as an organization. Ultimately, it is a way for people to quickly identify you and understand what sets you apart from the competition.
Besides helping people make a quick connection to who you are as a company or what you sell, your brand is also about perception; how you are perceived by your customers, across your industry and even in the community. It can also create an emotional connection between you and your clients. Think about Nike’s “Just do it” brand moniker that has become a deeper remark about lifestyle, healthy living and going for what is important in life. These are emotional threads that pull in potential customers across many demographics.
Your company brand as represented by a logo, typeface and color palette is a visible reminder of what you do. There’s a far more intense ideal here as well, in that brand should showcase your company’s culture as seen in the values and goals you display as an organization. This is not to be taken lightly. If your company is all about giving back to the community, for example, people will hopefully make that connection through your brand – unless, of course, your actual workplace culture or product is disconnected from that ideal, in which case you may find your brand suffers from ridicule or misunderstanding.
So, at its essence your brand shows the world who you are, perhaps identifies what you stand for and how your cultural values are a part of your story. No doubt that’s why a company’s story, as shown through its leadership for example, is critical to making the brand connection a lasting one for your clients.
– Sue Voyles