It’s both simple and extremely complicated, but at a basic level your brand is how other people see your business. It is the perception of your company, products and services by your target market. That seems obvious, but what’s not is how to go about creating a brand. That takes clarity, which often is elusive in startups.
It helps to be clear on what you are in business to do and what you stand for. What is your company’s role in the world, in your marketplace, in your community? What function do your products or services fulfill for your customers? How do they make life better?
Be clear on your vision for your business, on who you want to be and where you want to go. Know and articulate the values under which your business operates. Once you’re clear, your business must live them, consistently and over time.
Brands are not just something you think about in marketing meetings; brands are the essence of the company itself. Branding isn’t just the job of the marketing department; it is the responsibility of every employee from the CEO to receptionist. Everything you do and how you walk the talk all help to build a brand.
Once you’ve created a brand, how do you bring that brand to life? You start by creating a buzz about your business about your unique story or innovation. The story or innovation generates some interest where the market notices it, and through third parties who talk about you.
The money and energy you put into marketing and advertising is how you maintain the brand once it has already been created, but you cannot create a brand through advertising. Advertising dollars didn’t create the perception of “safety” for Volvo. The Volvo brand was created over time, through good public relations and word-of-mouth about the company and its safety-conscious cars.
The function of marketing is to breath life into the brand once it has been established. Marketing tells your unique story. It shows off your products or services in a way that helps you maintain your special brand. So …what is your brand? If it’s not clear, maybe it’s time you focused on creating one. Then put your marketing efforts into making sure other people understand what your brand is all about.