Brand Is Dead, Long Live Brand

The question of brand remains a key topic around the board table today. And, more than ever, the justification for spending money on branding is getting harder to answer – yet the businesses we often admire most can boast strong brand.

But first we must define what brand is, or perhaps what brand is not.

Brand is not a logo. With an average of 4000 new marketing messages coming your way every day, relying on a logo to stand out is not going to work in such a noisy environment.

Brand is not advertising. Indeed those left in the shrinking violet of an advertising industry must find their promise of brand awareness and brand equity almost entirely irrelevant.

Brand is not a decorated van, packaging, a uniform, a coloured envelope, or a website.

So what is brand? If it is no longer any of the above it must now be complicated, so hard to pin down, so expensive to create. Yet here it is in its simplicity:

Brand is everything that affects the relationship between a product or service and its consumer™

For a start, every trading business is branding itself from how you:

  • make presentations;
  • design your products;
  • write your contracts;
  • design your brochures;
  • run your promotions;
  • create your exhibitions;
  • write your letters;
  • and even the way you answer the phone.

The list of what you need to do to run a business is inevitably long. All of your processes are points of contact with your business. All of these are working to gain, keep and grow your customer relationships.

And this relationship, these experiences: they are what make up your brand.

Brand is the very essence of how your business engages everyone who comes into contact with your offer. The question is: who is taking responsibility for all these interactions with your business?

The marketing services industry is rarely equipped to help you. They are not trained that way. Ad agencies create ads, not call centre scripts; web companies can write with technology but can’t write your brochures; PR agencies can get you editorial or help you manage a crisis but that doesn’t mean they can create you a successful exhibition. It means that when the question ‘how are we building our brand?’ is asked at the board meeting, no one is prepared to take the stand and the question goes unanswered and more dangerously, often unfunded.

Meanwhile those amongst your competition who do understand the importance of brand and are branding every touch point of their business are stealing a march and owning the all-important relationships with their customers.

What most successful brands recognise is that any time their prospects and customers come into contact with their product or service the message should be consistent – a clear demonstration of their promise and lead people to buy.

In other words they are building a relationship that is familiar and valued.

Now, one of the most powerful ways to do this is to meet with the prospect and convince them to buy by demonstrating your promise. This is the way for the future of brands. Or is it?

The trouble with many brand owners is that they don’t realise the power they have to influence purchasers. They are too focussed on making their particular product or service better and better enhancing their business processes to deliver differentiated offers. Yet they often leave the buyer behind. This allows for brands who focus purely on the buyer to steal a march often without any control over the product or service itself. Think UBER, Airbnb, Amazon, ebay, Alibaba, Google..the list goes on and on. No products of their own, just the brand experience.

These brands realise that, whilst they are totally reliant on the product providers, they now hold the brand relationship.

Why don’t we all create experiences which people want to take part in?

More brand owners should start with the promise of an exciting new brand relationship.

After all, is this not what the prospects are buying into and customers are happy to have spent money on? Whether it comes in the form of a product or a service, it is the relationship people will value most. It has to work at every level – buyers are bloodhounds for inconsistency. It is imperative that you give your marketing people access all areas to enhance the relationship at every level so everyone involved in creating the experience understands their role, from shop floor to senior management.

Get this right and the strongest relationship to be with you. The art of brand is in everything you do, a fundamental you cannot afford to ignore unless of course, you believe brand is dead.

Long Live Brand.

This article is by Barnaby Wynter – Barnaby is the founder of The Brand Bucket® Company pursuing a vision of helping every business in the world create brands that matter by making their marketing work.