What’s in a brand?
“Branding is meaning. The meaning of your work, of your message, and of your product.”
The advent of social media and the ability to have a direct dialogue between brand and audience has finally given us the means—and a challenge—to give brands a truly human dimension.
This challenge is reflected in the sheer number of varying definitions of “brand”:
“A brand is the essence of one’s own unique story.” - Paul Biedermann of re:DESIGN
“Branding is more than a name and a symbol. A brand is created and influenced by people, visuals, culture, style, perception, words, messages, PR, opinions, news media, and especially social media.” - Lisa Buyer of the Buyer Group
“Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception.” - Ashley Friedlein of Econsultancy
It’s not just a name or logo, it’s something tangible. It’s not just your product or service, but something more than that. It’s something that exists in a grey area between product, person, and idea.
With so many definitions abound, it almost feels as if the word ‘brand’ has no real meaning – and if it does, it must be a rather nebulous one. But the common ground touched upon by many of these definitions lies precisely in this ambiguity – that of the brand as a type of identity, something that is to be moulded in order to create a unique entity.
Like identity, branding is about meaning. The meaning of your work, of your message, and of your product. It is these collected meanings which build up to create a distinct brand that people can identify with. A brand is the community that works hard to make your products and services great. A brand is your favourite product. A brand is an identity, something representing every one of these things.
Building a strong, memorable brand is a greater challenge than ever. For a brand to really work, it needs to build a relationship between a customer and the product in question. However, the last decade has seen major changes to how we view and create brands. It is no longer as simple as writing a catchy slogan and hoping people will remember it.
What we face today is the issue of building something that consumers can identify with, but also, something they have an active part in creating.
Responding to the challenge
How can we adequately meet this challenge? What does a brand need to do in order to become and remain relevant in 2015?
There’s no one ’right’ way of doing it. That’s the beauty of branding. However, we believe that by
- building a network of independent expertise from a variety of different specialisations and starting a dialogue with those behind the brand;
- mobilising stakeholders through effective social media engagement and creative outreach campaigns;
- and developing a brand’s unique identity traits and selling points with the consumer-product relationship in mind;
we are able to build brands which really inspire people.
The beauty of brands is that they are as individual and powerful as you want them to be. By taking advantage of all the expertise and technological means at your disposal, a positive brand image allows you to convey the excellence of your organisation to the world.