My oldest daughter recently got a job at one of my favorite “fast food” places Chick-Fil-A (CFA). Being that I live in Atlanta, where it is headquartered, they are everywhere. Also, I know many of the stores owners and some of the Cathy family (founders). Needless to say, I am a fan. Why do I bring this up? First, they offer something that all of us can do a better job of in our organization. They do not say “next customer;” they say “next guest.” Yep, we are treated special, and they mean it. Wow, I wonder how much that…
We communicate a message in everything we do – and it’s especially true when we use the term “brand.” All the time we discuss brands we prefer and those we do not. Why? Because brands stand out in our minds. Think about our instant recognition of Nike’s “Just Do It” or Apple’s “there’s an APP for that” campaign in recent years.
These messages are effective in connecting customers with the brand. The goal is to make such a brand experience personal in nature. For example, are you a Coke or Pepsi person? Mac or PC? You get the idea. Our brand is developed through ongoing interactions with another organization or entity. It generally takes “7 marketing touches” before someone remembers you. Your brand. For example, nobody every benefits from a 1x advertising campaign or 1x content. Instead your strategy must be consistent in nature to best market your message.
How to best explain a brand? You can say it is the sum total of key ideas, emotions and perceptions that are communicated to your audience and associated with your organization’s work. When your stakeholders reflect upon their experiences with your organization, the brand is the “shorthand” way of summing up those characteristics and feelings.
To help simplify this subject, I have developed a revised acronym: A BRAND can be considered the Baseline of one’s Reputation, Attributes, Name and Distinctiveness. Reputation is all your organization stands for; attributes are the characteristics others use when describing you; your name suggests something (good, bad or indifferent) when a person hears it; and your distinctiveness answers the question, “Why you? What makes you different or unique?” So the question is not if we have a brand or not, because we do.
All individuals and organizations have a brand. Instead, the question is: What do we do with our brand? In short, our brand is not defined by what we say it is, but is characterized by what others say it is. To that end, successful organizations work hard to develop their brands through effective communications. Always remember that building a strong, recognizable, reliable and consistent brand takes time, effort and commitment. Simply said, it requires a deliberate, purposeful and intentional strategy.
Such consistency in strategic branding pays off with brand loyalty – one of the most valuable assets any person or organization can have. To review your brand obtain feedback from those around you as a first step. Be sure to obtain this 360-degree feedback from those close to you as well as those who are more removed from you.
Once you know what your brand is, you can determine the ways you want to purposefully grow, change, re-frame, promote and/or strengthen your current brand position. So, how do you define your brand? Does it matter? You bet!
Remember, we all have a brand and there is no better time than now to address it. This subject will be discussed in much greater detail in my book… Would You Buy from You? Your Brand Makes the Difference
Have a great week.