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“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ~ Albert Einstein

“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

That is a famous quote from the character Morpheus in the movie the Matrix. In this part of the movie, Morpheus is helping Neo to realize that the world he once believed to be his reality was no more than a computer simulation. Yet for everyone else stuck in the “matrix”, this simulation was their reality.

When you are selling a product or service it is important to understand this concept. In marketing, you’re not just promoting a product – you are also promoting a specific image or idea about that product. Essentially, marketers present a certain perception of their product that they want customers to have. And for potential customers, that perception is often interpreted as reality.

For instance, take the famous brand name paper towel product: Bounty – “the Quicker Picker-Upper”. Television commercials portray Bounty as a superior paper towel that is able to absorb moisture much better than its competitors. Most of us don’t and will probably never know if Bounty is a better paper towel, but due to the perception their company has created for their product, many of us who have seen the commercial probably believe that Bounty is the best paper towel in the market.

Branding can play a key role in managing perceptions and in creating the reality that you want your customer’s to perceive. Branding is not your logo. A brand is how other people see your business. It is the perception of your company, products and services as seen through the eyes of your target market. It is the perception that there is no company, product or service quite like yours.

How does this relate to Silicon Valley startups? In our experience, many startups, believe they can control the messages their audience associates with their company. That is often naïve and untrue when you think about how easily information spreads in our online, social media driven world. People can talk about your company 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and it’s this perception that becomes your company’s reality.

For example, what if your brand was all about simplicity but placing an order was extremely difficult. Then the reality for your brand would not be simplicity. For many startups the messaging, the product, and employee perception of the product contributor to a different reality than what is communicated.

To help create the right “reality” for your company, ensure everyone inside the company is using the same messages when they talk about your brand and make your brand attributes a key ingredient in everything you do from product to company culture. While you can’t control others perceptions of your company, control what you can to help create the reality you strive for with your brand.

If you’re not sure about your brand attributes, call in a marketing expert to help you create a solid foundation for your marketing plan.