On Being A Brand

Value Proposition – Brandstorming – Value Pushing – Brand Extension – Brand Value
These are five of the Top 100 Marketing Buzzwords you can expect to hear in 2011.
All of them relate to an overarching term that has become recognized as a critical element in every successful company – branding.

The battle for customers intensifies day by day and it’s a forgone conclusion that a strong brand is invaluable. It’s a foundational piece in your marketing communication and one you do not want to be without.

A lot has been written about branding over the last few years, yet with all the articles, all the courses, all the case studies there is still disagreement what it means. Go to any marketing meeting, and on one side of the table you’ll find people who think “brand” means “logo and color scheme.” These are the people who subscribe to the American Marketing Associations definition of a brand: “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller.”

On the other side of that same table you’ll find those who believe that a “brand” is more of an emotional connection, it exists, evolves, in the hearts and minds of the audience. Steve McNamara, AdCracker.Com sums it up by saying “A brand is the sum of all feelings, thoughts and recognitions – positive and negative – that people in the target audience have about a company, a product or service.”

In reality, both are definitions are correct.

A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer. Companies that take their brand seriously have a key philosophy in common. They recognize that their brand is a source of promise to it customers – a unique value proposition. It’s their promise of relevant differentiated benefits for customers and clients. Brand identity and advertising campaigns are important, but they are only effective to the extent that they reinforce an underlying promise that is compelling to the brand’s target customers.

A brand is a personification of an organization or its products and services. It is built over time through customer reaction, feedback and referrals. It is impacted by reviews, by news stories, by word of mouth and by visibility. It is all the things that tell your audience Who You Are and What You Believe In.

A brand stands for something! It makes promises to its target audiences. It possesses a specific character and a personality and creates an emotional connection with its customers.

Preeminent brands understand that their brands go beyond making promises. More important than making promises, they recognize that brands must strive to deliver on those promises consistently at each point of customer contact, time after time. Branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition. It is about getting your prospects to see you as the company that provides a solution to their problem. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.

To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects and it’s critical to spend time investing in researching and defining before you go off building your brand. Without a clear understanding of what your target audience thinks, what they want and what they need you will not able to: deliver ~ confirm ~ connect ~ motivate. Simply put, you can’t hope to establish loyalty.

Do you realize how much loyalty you can build by listening? Have you thought about asking your target audience Who They think You Are and What They Think You Believe In? Have you ever thought about using social media to engage them, ask them listen to them ~ and show them you have listened?

Over the coming weeks we’ll talk about how social media can be used to define how a brand fulfills the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of your customers. More importantly, we’ll look at how successful brands have used this tool to build loyalty!

It’s all just a matter of trust….

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About Peter Oprysko

Social Marketing professional with proven experience in fostering brand awareness and loyalty, maximizing partner and sponsorship ROI, aligning like-minded brands, managing national media relations campaigns, counseling clients on communicating for growth.
Brand experience includes Bayer, Bose, Nikon and Xerox.
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