A logo is a badge, albeit an important one, which can be used in many ways. It can be used to alert, reassure, warn or support, but it is essentially just a marker, like planting a flag on the moon, it says “we’re here”.
Branding however is an entire philosophy, grown from the ground up – not from the logo down. From the tiniest details, such as the way a picture caption in a brochure is worded, to the manner in which the telephone is answered, the brand is the ‘personality’ of the entire organisation, the relationship between this ‘personality’ and a customer either drives them away from your business or, if correctly maintained, it drives them back to you time and time again. From these interactions, a reputation is born.
Your brand = Your reputation
Nothing is more powerful than the impression people have about your organisation. This is your reputation. People often go out and buy a certain make of car, either because it has a reputation, for example, of quality, safety or reliability – perhaps they make their choice based on the fact that the manufacturer’s reputation will confer on themselves some of the same qualities. This kind of reputation isn’t built overnight, but is gradually distilled from the activities behind the brand itself, as mentioned above, small things count for a lot, if the nails holding the ship together are poor quality, the ship won’t last. A glossy veneer may create the impression of a quality brand but it’s the long-term experience that your customers have with you that builds the brand, the reputation and the potential for growth.
How you would like your brand to be perceived?
What section of society are you targeting for potential customers? There are many different demographic categories of people out there and many brands that target a specific group or combination of groups. Think about where your brand would sit if you took all the others and put them in a scale. Are you offering bargain basement deals or the most refined ‘high-brow’ experience? There is a good chance that your brand fits ‘somewhere in between’, most do, but you can slice things thinner than that. Once you know your position, you can look at the habits and activities of your target audience and plan your marketing to work in step with them. Knowing your positioning is crucial, otherwise your marketing may be of high quality, but aimed wrongly. Positional awareness allows you to build strategy.
You’ve found your audience – now what are you going to offer them?
How you speak to your audience and what you say describes the proposition you are making. Having already positioned yourself correctly, you need be able to judge whether you offer a service or product that chimes with the identity of your customers or perhaps it offers them an aspirational enhancement to their lives. Are you offering the chance to make themselves look sucessful or wise, are you offering escapism, self-improvement or security?