I want to take you on a nostalgic stroll through the catacombs of imagination in an effort to garner a solid, tangible concept of the too often intangible beastie—THE BRAND.
Many people believe that brand=logo=emblem=icon. It’s not. It’s so much more. But we don’t need to stretch far to understand where this misconception comes from… it’s truly historical.
Back in the day when folk were neighbourly, pastoralists branded their beasts to identify one herd from another. Soon after, artisans and tradespeople implemented the practice to differentiate their work as well.
The next inevitable step in brand evolution was the consumers recognition of consistent and identifiable differences between one branded product and another. Quality became synonymous with the brand. Consumers began to seek out brands that had provided a positive experience in the past—beef of this brand was tastier; that brand of pottery was finer; furniture with this mark was sturdier; etc. Essentially, past experience had become an expectation of future performance.
If the producer differentiated their product as superior in the mind of the consumer, then that producer’s mark or brand came to represent superiority. When the industrialised world introduced packaging for consumer goods… well, branding heaven came to earth. Suddenly manufacturer’s brands were able to be everywhere at once and over the years, we’ve come to rely on the pretty logo and misconstrued it as brand.
We’ve forgotten where “brand” came from… well at least the middle bit.
The reality is that “brand” incorporates so much more than simply creating a mark to represent a company. Understanding the evolution of branding helps us understand where the power comes from… Branding is about creating an emotional attachment to products and companies.
Today, we still toil to establish brand, but we often think mass media will do the work for us. We tend to forget that word-of-mouth is still our best form of advertising (and our best evidence of brand performance, good or bad!).
So, if it is not a logo, icon, emblem or style, what IS “brand”?
Marketing bods still debate this question, but the definition I hold to “an identifiable entity that makes specific promises on value”. It’s that PROMISE that is the key. In its simplest form, branding is nothing more and nothing less than the promises of value you or your product make. These promises can be implied or explicitly stated, but nonetheless, value of some type is promised.
As we discussed, it is human nature to hold an expectation of repeat performance. Harness it… or let your clients down.
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© Jo Starling 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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