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So…what is a brand and why does branding matter?

A CEO I consulted once quipped, “To me, a ‘brand’ is a box of Cheerios on a grocery store shelf.” While he wasn’t wrong—and no doubt many other business leaders share that narrow knowledge of branding principles—a brand is obviously so much more. Your brand is your businesses’ most valuable asset. It’s the “gut feeling” your customers and prospects have about your business, your products, and your services. Your brand is the sum total of all you are and all you do. It’s the essence and the promise on which your business is built—and the lynchpin on which your future success and growth will depend.


Branding is for any business that sells any product or service to either a business or consumer audience.

According to Don E. Schultz and Heidi F. Schultz, authors of Brand Babble, “The brand is nothing more than an ongoing relationship in which a customer exchanges financial value with the marketing organization for the use of the benefits the brand provides.”

Resources to build YOUR brand quickly and easily are available here. 

Dawn Leijon, adjunct professor of Marketing at Georgetown University and former brand manager for Kraft® put it this way: “Branding isn’t about logos, slogans or advertising—those are just tools. Branding is about making people remember your organization, service or product and what’s unique about it.”


A strong brand will influence everything your business is and does, from your ability to recruit talented staff to its result on the bottom line. That is why more and more business leaders are paying attention to establishing and managing a brand strategy—treating it like the important asset it really is.


But branding is not simply a tool for creating awareness of your business, it can be the key mechanism for communicating your organization’s vital messages to the marketplace. A strong brand will change the way prospects and customers think about you; it can be the chief reason they come to you to solve their problems; and it can help educate potential business partners and vendors.


A solid and focused brand strategy will also help your business:

  • Arrive at the “one thing”— your brand essence —the core of your promise to your target market

  • Differentiate itself from other competitive offerings

  • Discover an ideal, customer-friendly structure— the space in which your brand exists

  • Move to the next level of effectiveness in the marketplace

  • Increase the awareness and the perceived value of your offerings

  • Bring clarity and effectiveness in your marketing and communications efforts

  • Motivate and inspire your brand team, employees, and other stakeholders


So what is a brand?

A brand is NOT a logo. A brand is NOT a product.


According to branding expert and author Al Ries, a brand is “A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect.”


In other words, it’s gut feeling a person has about a product, service, or company. That’s because people are emotional and instinctive beings.


Brands are defined by people. Not by companies, marketing departments, advertising agencies, or CEOs.

A brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is.

  • A brand is a promise

  • A promise of specific benefits and value

  • A promise that is meaningful and relevant to users

  • A promise that is different from the competition


Brands have real value

  • Coca-Cola=$67 Billion or 62% of value

  • Apple=$7 billion or 51% of value

  • Nike=$9 billion or 45% of value

  • Harley-Davidson=$7 billion or 39% of value


This equity translates into real balance sheet value. For instance, Oscar Mayer can charge 35 percent more for their bologna than a private label brand. In fact, walk down the aisles of any supermarket and see how the “brand name” products align price-wise with their “store brand” competitors. Generic parity products, like Ibuprofen, are virtually identical with the brands like Advil®. However, when you purchase the Advil brand, you’re also making an investment in the brand equity that product provides to you—whether that equity is in the form of increased confidence, perceived performance, or just the feeling that “I’m buying something that’s good for my family.”


The “difference” between what a consumer will pay for a generic product and its brand-name equivalent is one way to arrive at a figure for brand value.


Why does it matter to you?

  • Because people have too many choices and too little time

  • Quality and features of most offerings seem similar

  • People want to TRUST the companies they patronize


A good brand will:

  • Deliver the message clearly

  • Confirm your credibility

  • Connect you to your target market emotionally

  • Motivate the buyer

  • Cement user loyalty


To succeed in branding, you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand through your company at every point of contact.


Your brand resides within the minds—and hearts—of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.


A strong brand is invaluable as the marketplace gets crowded with not only competitors, but those solutions your customers BELIEVE are alternatives.


Your brand is a promise to your customers. It should be the fundamental piece woven in to all your marketing communications and every customer touchpoint.


Your goal is to make your business a "magnetic brand." When you become a magnetic brand you will have a product, service, or company for which people believe there is no substitute.

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