In this article we are going to answer the question of what is branding?, and The Difference Between Brand and Branding?.
Firstly let’s define the word “Brand” as I feel there is a lot of confusion surrounding what a brand is, I also think it’s ironic that brand has an identity problem.:
What is Brand?
I define brand as the meaning people attach to you and your offering, brand is what the consumers say it is, and of course this is a scary thought when you think about it because that indicates that you don’t own your brand, other people do it’s in their hearts and their minds and their personal feeling towards what you do, what you offer, and how you do it.
Branding is the management of meaning.
The challenge is how are we managing our meaning?
Because meaning is perceived in our audiences mind by the signals that we give off, So a brand speaks a certain way, it dresses a certain way, it behaves in a certain way, does things for us, exists on the basis of a set of beliefs, and all of that creates meaning in our audience is mind.
A brand isn’t a logo, typeface or a colour palette, brand goes right through all aspects of business starting with culture and the visual design aspect is at the end.
We will share three key strategies to help manage meaning, and help you brand inside the culture of your business through to the outside.
The first is to align your leadership, brand really starts as a leadership question.
- What are the leaders doing?
- How are we getting them together?
- Why do we exist?
- What’s our purpose?
- How are we setting ourselves up for success?
Answering these very fundamental and basic questions why?… how?… what?
And particularly who.
- Who are we here to serve?
- Who are we here to look after?
- Why does it matter to them?
Once you’ve got that together you know values are hugely important from a “How” perspective because if we have values and we empower our employees then when things fall outside of the specific rules they have got some guidance to help direct them in.
There are two key ways that we can help manage meaning.
Stories help us make sense of the world around us telling great stories is a great way to get an emotional engagement, and something that I think is quite interesting is to consider your business your collective amount of employees almost as a character in your customers story.
- What’s the customer trying to achieve?
- What are their goals and challenges?
- Why do they come to you in their story to help overcome those problems and challenges?
Are we being thoughtful or design-full around all the aspects of our business, linking every aspect to the purpose, the brand, the core, the meaning we want people to attach to us?
With that in mind, are we designing our employee experience?
Are we thinking about it right from the start all the way through to the end, mapping out those sections of our employee experience and then applying the brand to every single part?
How can we engage and excite employees and connect them with the core of why we exist?
Engage Employees With Brand
I think we’re rewarding employees perhaps for the wrong things, because employees are on the frontline, they’re the ones that customers are going to look at and attach meaning to us, and so we need to make sure they understand what the brand’s all about.
How can we do this?
Formal rewards system
Are we rewarding people for exhibiting brand values informally or formally? Are we allowing that space to happen?
What routines are we putting into place to continually ensure that our employees are engaged with the brand?
Appraisals, for example, are we checking in on what contributions they’re making.
So this is a classic putting values on the wall. But nowadays we’re not all working in the same place.
What else can we do to remind employees of the types of things that we need collectively to do to become that character in our customer’s story?
So there are three kinds of key strategies.
- Align your leadership
- Design the employee experience
- Engage employees with the brand
We need to be more mindful, thoughtful, and design-full around the meaning that we want people to attach to us.
We need to do branding correctly, not just offer it as a visual element. We need to do it starting from the core, the inside and working to the outside of the brand the visual elements consumers see and engage with.
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I hope this has answered the question of What is Branding?, and The Difference Between Brand and Branding?
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Also published on Medium.