It is rare to find a marketer who can say, "This is how my company defines our brand, and this is how we express that brand in every interaction with every audience."
So let's begin with the most basic questions. What is a brand? And how should you define and express your brand?
Almost everyone has an idea, an informal definition of a "brand" floating around inside their heads. But go to any marketing meeting, and on one side of the table are people who think "brand" means the "logo and color scheme." On the other side of the table are people who believe the "brand" exists inside the hearts and minds of the audience.
You can see that it makes sense for client and creative - for everyone on the marketing team - to share a common understanding, a common definition of the term "brand" as well as a specific definition of their own brand.
Here's how AdCracker defines 'brand.'
"A brand is the sum of all feelings, thoughts, visual and other memories - positive and negative - that people in the target audience have about a company, a product or service."
Steve McNamara, AdCracker.Com.
This definition of a brand means several things. For one, it means that the "brand" resides in the minds of the audience, not in a thing such as a logo.
It also means that a "brand" is constantly evolving as people experience information about the company, the product or service. A brand is more like a cloud than a rock, and it can be shaped by many types of information. Some examples:
- A logo or other visual symbol that immediately identifies a product or company.
- An aroma, fragrance or odor that people come to associate with a company such as a bakery or tire store.
- A recommendation or condemnation from a trusted source.
- An advertisement such as a TV spot, email or social media post.
- A person's appearance, behavior or personality - whether Jack the CEO, Madaline in sales or Tom Parks who answers customer support calls.
Finally, this definition means that you can use the same creative techniques to shape any brand, whether a corporate brand, product brand, business to business or business to consumer brand.
- All 10 creative branding techniques.
- The 3 essential ingredients of world-class branding campaigns.
- Over 150 example branding ads in digital, traditional and social media.
- Plus, complete branding campaigns from leading technology, finance, health and beauty brands.
How To Define Your Brand:
A Brand Development Checklist.
To build a world-class brand, small or large, B2B or B2C, there are several creative elements you should consider and commit to writing.
- The brand's personality. How does the brand think, feel and behave in a way that makes it unique.
- The brand's relationships with relevant target audiences. What can the brand promise a prospective buyer? What value or benefit does the brand bring to a relationship with customers, the community, employees, and suppliers?
- The brand's visual identity. What does the brand look like? Be sure to consider all visual representations of the brand such as the logo, typography, colors, signage and perhaps a brand character.
- The brand's story. "Hi there, Mr. Buyer. Let me introduce myself, my history and the people who have made me what I am today."
- Creative techniques. What techniques will you use to identify and project the brand, such as music or an interesting character.
- Also consider conceptual flexibility. Increasingly, campaigns must also have the flexibility to work cross-culturally, say, for both American and Hispanic audiences, or Asian and European audiences.
And make sure that important elements of the branding campaign can work in social media. For example, a strong brand personality, projected through a brand character, could work on a company blog, a Facebook page and Twitter.