What’s a brand? It’s not very tangible. It’s more like a feeling than a thing. While it may be managed by you or someone at your organization, it is really outward perception that defines your brand. Furthermore, even if you truly have the best brand in the world, if people don’t feel that way, you don’t.
The brand of a company is really its reputation. Just like a personal reputation, a brand reputation is formed based on the behaviors and actions of the company (or person), and how those behaviors and actions are perceived.
Since each of us understand what a personal reputation is, it makes it easier to understand what a company brand is.
John Moore (from Brand Autopsy) and I, some years ago, were working with a client that wanted help with their brand. Knowing that the business was full of smart people, but not seasoned marketers, we started first with the metaphor of personal reputation. Once everyone quickly understood that, we shifted-gears and related that back to their brand reputation.
The team found this extremely helpful, and in fact, had several ah-ha moments when managers finally understood what a brand is about!
In our examination of reputation, we identified these six characteristics and outlined these definitions.
Examining the company through these filters helps to gauge how you’re reputation is performing and which areas that may need development.
(1) Being Remarkable
Don’t be invisible.
You should have something special to offer. Something unique from your competition. Something that makes you noteworthy.
(2) Having Values
Stand for something not everything.
Have a reason for being. What is it your employees and customers can believe in? Make financial success a by-product of doing the right thing.
(3) Being Genuine
Appeal to Main Street, not just to Wall Street.
You need to be authentic, the real you. Any guise you may have that’s inconsistent with who you truly are will be discovered. So start by being real.
(4) Having Empathy
Cultivate loyalty beyond reason.
Work to support loyal customers more than others think is wise. Personalize the customer experience, treat each customer – no matter what your volume – as an individual. Support your evangelists, your raving fans, to increase your loyal following.
(5) Having Vision
Be mission bound.
Having vision means truly wanting to make the world a better place. It’s about looking to the horizon – the broad view… a company that is built to last, not built to flip. A brand with vision serves as an enabler to help consumers live their dreams.
(6) Being Conscientious
Make everything matter
You should have depth and social meaning. (Don’t be shallow). Strive for excellence. Have and support strong beliefs.
Taking a look at that list again, you’ll notice that the people and brands with the best reputations live according to most or all of these characteristics. It’s this character that forms their reputation… and their personal brand. The same follows for your company brand.
Are there other concepts you’ve found helpful to help communicate branding? Are there additional characteristics I should include?
Please add your comments!
If you feel your brand is lacking in any areas, use this suggested reading list to guide your development.
“The Number One Strategy for High-Performance Brands”
“The Brand Gap”
“99 Cows” (PDF)
“The Experience Economy”
(Pine & Gilmore)
“Be Our Guest:
Perfecting the Art of Customer Service”
The Future Beyond Brands”
A tool for Yourself, Your Team. and Your World”