Noel Pinnock, Contributing Writer
Branding is more than just a business buzzword. It has become the crux of selling in the new economy. If the old marketing mantra was “Nothing happens until somebody sells something,” the new philosophy could be “Nothing happens until somebody brands something.” In its simplest form, a brand is a noun. It is the name attached to a product/service or person. However, upon close inspection, a brand represents many more intangible aspects of a product/service or person: a collection of feelings and perceptions about quality, image, lifestyle and status. It creates in the mind of customers and prospects the perception that there is no product/service on the market that is quite like yours.
In short, a brand offers the customer a guarantee and then delivers on it. You might infer then, that if you build a powerful brand, you will in turn be able to create a powerful marketing program. However, if you cannot convince customers that your product/service is worthy of purchasing, no amount of advertising dollars, fancy packaging or public relations will help you achieve your goals. Therefore, successful branding begins with superior products/services, backed by excellent customer service that permeates an entire organization. Jim Collins refers to this as The Three Circles: A Hedgehog Concept. In his book Good to Great, it reads:
To quickly grasp the three circles, consider the following personal analogy. Suppose you were able to construct a work life that meets the following three tests. First, you are doing work which you have a genetic or God-given talent, and perhaps you could become one of the best in the world in applying that talent. (‘I feel that I was just born to be doing this this.’) Second, you are well paid for what you do. (‘I get paid to do this? Am I dreaming?’) Third, you are doing work you are passionate about and absolutely love to do, enjoying the actual process for its own sake. (‘I look forward to getting up and throwing myself into my daily work, and I really believe in what I am doing.’)
Building a brand for your organization or yourself does take work and involves knowing your customers and products/services.
You must ask yourself three underlying questions:
- What can you or your organization do better than anyone in the world?
- What drives your organization’s economic engine or your personal economic goal?
- What are you or your organization deeply passionate about?
Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group or organization. Personal branding often involves the application of one’s name to various products. For example, the celebrity real-estate mogul and newly elected President, Donald Trump, uses his last name extensively on his buildings and on the products he endorses (e.g. Trump Tower). Marketers McNally and Speak define the personal brand in this way: “Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.” The relationship between brands and consumers need to be constantly made and remade, and this continuous process creates a demonstration of the ambivalence in brand cultures. This same logic follows for personal brands – there is a constant desire for a reinforcement of the self-brand.
If a full-scale re-branding is needed, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Detach yourself from your old image. You or someone in your organization might have been instrumental in the design of previous logos or marketing materials, so there could be some emotional attachment to it. To be successful in your re-branding, it is important to try to stay detached from what you are used to seeing and open yourself up to new ideas.
- Branding takes time. Re-branding impacts all of your marketing efforts and materials – print and digital. You need to make sure it accurately portrays the mission and the direction of your organization. Coming up with multiple concepts and having a committee review and giving input is extremely valuable.
- Consistency is key. Keep the look throughout all communication and marketing material consistent with the new image – use the same voice, same colors and same logo. A branding guide can help ensure everyone using your brand is on the same page.
- Communicate early and often. Let everyone in on the upcoming change. Get your audience’s buy-in beforehand and get them excited to see what is on the horizon. The better you prepare the audience, the faster they will accept and adopt it.
What I have described to you can apply to any organization selling a product/service or can apply to an individual engaged in job seeking, promotion, sports recruitment, etc. All you have to do is get at it!
To read more about author Noel Pinnock, B.S., M.P.A., C.A., CCC, IPMA-SCP, please visit www.noelpinnock.com.