A brand is more than…

You may already know this, but a brand is more than your logo.

You may already know this, but a brand is more than your cool slogan.

You may already know this, but a brand is more than the guidelines you publish on your site.

You may also already know this, but a brand is more than the cool audio mark you had designed and developed by that ex-Lucasfilm audio designer who created the signature sound for the double-bladed lavender light saber featured in the latest Disney+ original (note: I’m being coy. I know there is no double-bladed lavender light saber featured in a Disney+ show. Stand down Star Wars nerds. That’s no shade. I’m one too!)

Of quadrants, graphs, and Venn diagrams

I think you already know all of this. Yet, time and again some of you make me kinda wonder. Do you know that a brand is more than logos, colors, shapes, jingles, and jangles?

When I see discussions of branding and fancy Harvard Business School caliber quadrants, graphs, and Venn diagrams are introduced, I get worried. I’m worried not because those Harvard Business School caliber quadrants, graphs, and Venn diagrams are wrong, but because the execution of that brand often stops there.

Image from IH Concepts. Note: I was not making a reference to this blog article in my comment. This was just a good representation of what I was referring to.

As the old saying goes, the devil’s in the details.

If you’re ever in a discussion about building or recognizing your organization’s brand, and the topic of customer support doesn’t come up. Something’s missing.

If you don’t look at and evaluate the details of your packaging. Something’s missing.

If you’re not routinely looking at your NPS score, and addressing any recurring situations that lower it, something’s missing.

Image from Netigate.

Speaking of NPS score, you need to dig even deeper into research behind what your audience thinks of your brand. Because whether you like it or not, there’s an aspect of your brand that you can’t control.

Audience perception matters

I can’t tell you how many times in my life where I told a joke that was taken the wrong way. Or wrote a satirical blog post where the satire was totally lost on the readers. Or I did something I thought was really cool and romantic for my significant other, and it landed like a dud.

We frequently have intentions to communicate one thing, but find out the recipient “heard” something entirely different.

When it comes to brand perception, it’s no different.

Your intent may be one thing, but reality may be another. Your brand is very much tied to what customers think of you and how they feel when they interact with your organization.

  • Have you invested in the research to determine exactly what it is they think?
  • Have you polled them in an email newsletter or on social media?
  • Do you have opportunities for users to submit feedback? If you do, is someone reading that feedback? If so, are you doing anything to address it?

Any discussion and investment in an organization’s brand should include understanding audience perception.

It starts from within

Your brand goes all the way to the proverbial “DNA” of your organization. That means at its heart, it starts from within the organization. The “protein molecules” that combine the DNA are the mission and values you create.

Your brand starts with the training you provide to your employees. It’s the power you give them to make reasonable “executive” decisions, whether they are an individual contributor or a C-level manager.

Let me tell you this: if your employees are not committed to living out your brand and making the experience real for your customers and clients, you have a huge problem.

An investment in your people is an investment in your brand.

You’re not Nike

There are few logos on this planet more recognizable than the Nike swoosh. It is the dream of every company to have a logo as simple and cool; and a slogan as memorable. But I have news for you…

You’re not Nike.

And that’s a good thing. If you try to be Nike you’re going to miss an opportunity to be uniquely you. If you try too hard to come up with just the right pithy 3-word slogan like Nike’s “Just do it!” or Apple’s “Think Different”, you might miss out on the totally bad-ass 5-word slogan that’s perfect for your organization.

You’re also not Nike because chances are you’re not a 56-year-old consumer brand that has invested literally billions and billions of dollars in product development, customer experience, and affinity marketing.

You’re not Nike because chances are you don’t have world-renown celebrities wear your logo everywhere they go.

Tennis super star Serena Williams. Image CC BY-SA by Edwin Martinez.

Be inspired by what Nike has done over the years. But don’t aspire to be Nike.

Be you.

A brand is more than…

A brand is more than all the amazing graphical, visual, and audio elements that represent your company.

It’s everything from the UX of your website, to the CX of your customer support platform.

It’s the smiles and small talk that your baristas give to the regulars and first-timers who come into your cafe(s) every day.

It’s the extra hour your delivery guy puts in to make sure a customer gets a crucial package.

A brand is the forest and the trees. You need to pay attention to both.

You are most likely way smarter than I. And I know I’m not the first guy to write about this. I’m sure you already know all of this. The question is: are you acting like it?

Are you interested in getting practical content marketing tips and strategies directly to your inbox? Sign up for my newsletter, and like the proverbial end credits sequence in a movie, you’ll get a little bit more than those who just read the blog.

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