Is "brand" just another buzzword? A Google search for "brand" turns up more than 1.8 billion results. The term is so often used and abused that it has become almost meaningless. But branding is much more than a fad. The careful crafting and deployment of a brand is what makes your marketing powerful.
Your brand is what people think and feel about you
Your brand is what people think and feel about you, based on what you tell them and show them. When Kaufman, Rossin uses our company's branded phrase "See Beyond the Numbers," we mean our clients get more from us than tax returns and financial statements — they get more sophisticated services that help improve their businesses. When WLRN, our local NPR station, describes itself as South Florida's Storyteller, listeners know they will hear more than the great NPR news programs — they'll hear the stories of our community's culture, economy and people. Your company brand should do a similar job, demonstrating what you do better than others.
Your brand is what you own
Branding expert Todd Friedman writes:
"Your brand is what you own in the minds of your customer … the overall experience. Apple is a good example. When I use my iPhone, things work in a simple and smooth way. I don't need to have the most advanced technology that requires me to invest a ton of time to figure out. I just want everything to be easy, simple and enjoyable. Apple understands this. So when other brands say you can do more with them, it really doesn't affect Apple. Apple's brand owns something else other than what the technology can do. It owns the things many of us care more about: sharper pictures, easier to carry, fun to explore and fashionable for our everyday lives."
Isn't my logo my brand?
Brand identity is sometimes confused with brand. Your brand identity is a collection of visuals and messages like your logo, icon, tagline, stationery, colors, packaging, etc. Those elements help people recognize your brand. But your brand is more. It's a perception of you that you own.
Volvo equals safety.
Nike equals winning.
Whole Foods equals healthy.
Victoria's Secret equals sexy.
So what's your brand?
No, not everything you do is your brand, just one thing you can own. It's hard to own a lot of different things in the mind of the consumer. Trying to own too many things is one of the biggest mistakes most brands make. The most efficient way to build your brand is to identify your market and find the need you can fill that no one else owns — or at least claims to own. Owning one thing that is valuable to your market is very powerful. The second step is to communicate this unique quality. Once your market understands that you can deliver "healthy" fast food, a more "efficient" car or "simpler" insurance plans, the world is yours!
How can you get there? Ask yourself:
- What do we offer that is special?
- Does our market care?
- Does everyone else have it?
- Does anyone else talk about it?
Once you have identified your target, your competitors and your brand, it's time to start defining your marketing strategies and tactics.
Janet Kyle Altmanis the marketing partner at the accounting firm Kaufman, Rossin & Co.