Businesses are centered around people: understanding them, providing value, displaying authenticity, possessing a solid business culture, and connecting with their audience. Essentially, business is about getting people right.
And one of the most impactful ways to get people right is by building a brand on strategy.
What is a Brand? What is it Not?
What is a brand? A brand is who you or your business (the entity through which you sell products and services) are. A brand is also the combination of expectations, perceptions, and relationships that answer the crucial question, “Why should I choose you?” in the business world. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, cuts right to the heart of what a brand is by stating, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” And branding develops awareness about the brand, essentially putting that brand to work.
But branding isn’t marketing. And a brand isn’t just a logo.
What a Brand and Branding Aren’t
Marketing Vs. Branding
Marketing invites and entices; branding fosters and develops. They’re both independent of one another yet need each other. It can be a little confusing but think about it this way.
Marketing dresses for the occasion and says, “Hello, nice to meet you! Would you like to grab some coffee?” On the other hand, branding arrives at the coffee shop and says, “Tell me more about yourself! And here’s more about me.”
Branding converses, connects, develops trust, and builds that relationship.
But this isn’t the only misconception about brands and branding.
A Brand Isn’t Just a Logo
Part of the DNA of a brand includes the logo and identity. But there’s so much more to it.
Because a brand is who you or your business are, its foundation runs deep. A brand has characteristics, attitudes, opinions, language, tone, and an outlook on the world. It thinks, feels, and speaks with a specific message. It’s like a human being.
And a human brand connects and gets people right, its people (a specific audience). But in order to resonate like this, a brand must be built on a strategic foundation.
Why Strategically Built Brands Can Lead to the Success of a Business
What Once Was Lost, But Now is Found Again
Businesses of the past lived and died on their reputation. Think early 1900’s. They had a storefront, sold goods within, and knew their customers well. They kept their promises, developed trust, and continued to cultivate those relationships.
Then technology and larger corporations grew, causing a shift (and rift) between brands, consumers, and their overall relationships. Those relationships weakened, and a disconnect began to form between company and customer. Brands were talking at their consumers, not to them. But the up-and-coming millennial generation, through social media, would significantly impact the brand's roles in today’s marketplace.
More Is Expected of Brands Today
The birth of social media forever changed the life of brands. Millennials, who mastered their technology, now had a platform and voice. A two-way conversational relationship emerged once again between consumer and brand. And organizations soon discovered that their survival depended on an open versus closed systems approach between themselves and their audience.
Consumers now demand that brands listen to what they have to say and meet their needs. Individuals can directly converse with not only one another but collectively, both to and with their brands. If a brand listens and speaks to its audience, it could potentially develop closer relationships with them.
By creating a human brand built on strategy, businesses can meet the demands their audience places on it and clearly communicate, resonate, and connect like never before.
Getting people right will ultimately lead to not only a surviving brand, but a thriving business.
Small businesses today are struggling to survive. But through a brand built on strategy, they can develop a specific message for a specific audience, powerfully speaking to them and meeting their needs like never before.
Through this human brand, they can be known the way they want to be known and achieve and impact on an unprecedented level.
Businesses can beat the odds and not just survive the 10-year-mark, but thrive long term.