News

Why A Brand Matters

The following article was originally published on Forbes.com.

In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise. Think of some top brands and you immediately know what they promise: McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Budweiser, Ford, Apple and MetLife.

You know what you’re going to get with a well-branded product or service.

In another sense, a brand is a specific combination of logo, words, type font, design, colors, personality, price, service, etc.

It’s also a bundle of attributes. Think of Volvo, for instance, and your first thoughts are probably going to be something like “well built, comfortable, Swedish” and, most of all, “safety.”

The promise, look, personality and attributes can eventually acquire a special patina of what the author calls “me” appeal. Buying a certain brand says something about the person who buys it. Apple has that patina. So does Prius. The booze and clothing businesses are filled with patina products: Cristal, Guinness, Ralph Lauren and Manolo Blahnik.

All of this can lead to sub-brands, like iPhone and iPad which acquire the aura of the parent brand.

It takes a lot of time, money and very hard work to build and maintain great brands like that, brands that can speak volumes in just a few syllables.

If you’re going to develop your brand, the last thing you want to do is follow the beaten path. You want to head down your own road. Your brand has to plant itself in the hearts and minds (especially hearts) of prospects and customers.

It also has to be memorable. Your brand is the focus of all your marketing efforts (yes, it needs to say something about your company, connect with your target market, be motivating in some way and always create loyalty).

When you think about your brand, think about all the elements: promise, personality, look, voice, service, attributes, memorability and even patina. There’s a good chance that if you ask customers, prospects and competitors about it, you’ll be surprised at how strong your brand actually is.

It’s shorthand for what you are.