Brand Is What People Say About You When You’re Not In The Room.
Branding is the process of building a coherent and distinct pattern of associations in the mind of a target audience.
When I say, “Apple,” a whole world of associations come up. When I say “Microsoft” a different world of associations come to mind. To the extent that both bring up associations, they have been “branded.” To the extent that those associations are clear, distinct, and helpful, they have been successfully branded.
Branding firms use culture, product, image, design, sound, voice, language, price, service, entertainment, celebrity, fashion, and interaction – an extremely broad range of tools – to build the brand. Today, the mission of an organization and the meaning of being associated with that mission is important to many people as well.
Too often, branding is associated with much more limited objectives. For example, logo and visual identity standards. While these are key tools for branding, they alone don’t create the brand.
Very often, when people use the word “brand” they are referring to what the company thinks and says about itself.
But brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room. Brand is about what your audience feels about you in their heart of hearts. Your brand is not what you tell people it is, your brand is what people tell people it is. What you say is just your attempt to affect that understanding.
Today, brands are built by great products and services, first and foremost. In a world of online reviews, advertising and spin cannot trump a predominance of bad experiences. Not everyone, but your target audience must be delighted.