Best Practice: Branding

Picture_2 This appeared in the Des Moines Register’s Best Practices series on Tuesday, May 29th, 2007.


A brand is not your logo or your tagline.

Those are important tools you use to express your brand.  But not the brand itself.

A brand is a unified, singular understanding of what an organization is about and how it is unique from the key audiences’ points of view.  In English – it’s why a potential client or employee would choose you over your competitor.  What makes you stand out from the rest? What’s it like to do business with you?

It is you standing up, hand on heart and making a promise.  And then keeping that promise.

A brand is like a three-legged stool. The three legs are:

   1. The company’s vision of the brand
   2. The consumers’ vision of the brand
   3. Where your brand sits in the marketplace

How you view your brand:

This is your take. What do you believe the brand values are? What promise are you making to the consumer? How does that promise also weave through your dealings with employees and vendors? What are you willing or not willing to compromise on?

How your consumers view your brand:

This is their experience. Do you promise one thing and then do another? Do your employees consistently deliver the same brand promise? Do your marketing communications pieces (ads, website, direct mail etc.) paint a different picture than an actual buying experience?

How you fit into the marketplace:

This is the 30,000-foot view. When you look over the competitive landscape, where does your brand sit? If you are a local coffee shop, how do you compare to Starbucks? If you’re a phone/internet provider how are your materials and sales people different from the last three I talked to? What does your brand promise say that makes you different from your competitors? Or are you like most companies and it doesn’t?

As a business owner, you need to make sure that you understand all three legs of the branding stool. You also need to make sure they square up together.

Why does branding matter?

Every business exists in a complicated, crowded marketplace.   No matter what you do, someone else does it too.  So, how do you stand out in the marketplace?  How do you differentiate yourself?  Every business has a simple choice.  You can create/identify a brand to differentiate yourself or you can just be the cheapest option.

Which would you choose?

Or you can view it as it appeared in the paper:  Download 052907DesMoinesRegister.pdf

Flickr photo courtesy of mleak.

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