What makes a brand?
Many organisations start off by thinking about their brand purely in visual terms – their logo, signage, website, marketing materials and packaging. But that barely scratches the surface.
In truth, a brand is what instantly comes to mind when it is mentioned. Is the name familiar? Does it conjure positive thoughts or negative ones? Does it have the “baggage” you want it to have?
Problems occur when there is a gap between what the brand should be and the perceptions of others – in particular, customers and staff.
First, establish how you aspire to be known. Be clear in your mind what your story is, what makes you special. This is your brand narrative.
Once it is clear, your narrative should be applied with great discipline. By ensuring consistency in how you promote yourselves and the service you give your customers, you’ll start to build the brand you want.
You can then reinforce it through what you say on social media, the customer testimonials you seek, and how you respond to any wrong things being said about you.
Really successful brands tend to have two key elements – simplicity and an emotional connection. In this way, they are immediately understood and liked.
It takes time and effort to build a really successful brand, yet it can be seriously damaged in seconds. Think back to Gerald Ratner, whose retail jewellery business was ruined virtually overnight when in an unguarded moment he mocked the quality of his own products!
A brand needs constant love and attention. It is your reputation and the foundation stone of your business. It’s a precious thing, so understand it and try never to take it for granted.