When brand(ing) comes up in a meeting, it often means different things to different people, and many executives, entrepreneurs and staff speak of brand(ing) as a startup exercise. They may be thinking branding is complete once the logo, color pallet, fonts, tag lines, icon, etc. are determined. The reality is there is some confusion surrounding the meaning of brand(ing) and how it should be executed and operationalized within organizations big and small.
In order for a successful brand to happen, there needs to be a well thought out idea developed through strategic brainstorming to formulate the best brand that distinguishes your business and sets you apart from your competitors.
Sulzer Inc believes brand(ing) is a concept not fully understood, and very often under appreciated. At Sulzer Inc, we are experts at helping businesses find their brand. Our agency has helped guide a wide range of organizations, from passionate startups and not-for-profits, to fortune 1000 brands define and unlock the power of their brand. We’ve helped refresh and reposition mature brands and built new brands from scratch. We are most often hired by the entrepreneur, marketing director, CMO or executive team. On occasion we assist venture firms or private equity groups in driving the business to help explore and define the brand’s relevance and reason for being. After working with so many different teams to develop and refresh brands, Sulzer has come to the realization that brands are living and breathing things. They are complex, and like great people, great brands have a soul, personality and behaviors that differentiate them from others. They leave impressions and invite folks to engage. Great brands are interesting and clearly articulate why people need them.
Brand(ing) has many parts.
Why do so many entrepreneurs and leadership teams who talk about brand(ing) not understand its full potential as a business asset? Many see it as a single thing instead of its entirety. Many mistakenly see brand(ing) as the logo, fonts, ad campaigns or what the packaging graphics look like. They fail to recognize the power that a fully articulated brand strategy holds when deployed across all areas of the organization.
Take a minute to think about an event or a performance that stands out to you, that made an impression on you. You thought about that event for days afterwards. Now think about why it was so memorable? Why are some people so fascinating, so memorable? The impression we create when we meet other people is formed by the way we act, the way we talk, look and dress and the value we deliver. In the same way we form impressions about people, we form impressions about brands. Brand(ing) is the impression we have of a product or a service and is based on all our experiences and interactions with it. Everything a brand does matters.
Brand(ing) is a living thing.
Like humans, brands are alive and have personality and character. Think of a brand like a person living with a real purpose, adding value to people’s lives and operating with a set of guiding beliefs. Brands first need to be clear on why they exist and what they are trying to accomplish. Once you have a brand’s purpose, then you can work on messaging that is relevant and memorable. Just like a person who operates with integrity, a brand should have a clearly defined set of principles and values that guide how it operates. The principles form the foundation of the brand. Those combined with a clear mission and a clear strategy, give the brand a working foundation and strategy that supports and drives the organizational agenda and mission.
Just like memorable people, brands that stand out from the crowd do so because they draw interest and are memorable and different. Interesting brands are relevant, engaging, informative and often, brave. They take a stand for or against something and have the confidence to stand up for what they represent. People remember compelling brands and know what to expect from them.
Your brand is one of the most important assets you possess to drive and differentiate your business. If your brand is not clearly defined, understood and articulated by the entire organization, it will never realize its full potential to impact your organization. It’s important to ensure that there is understanding and clarity around what brand(ing) means in business terms and what it can do to drive innovation. Your brand is one of the most powerful drivers for engagement and performance across all areas of your business.
Brand(ing) does not belong to marketing.
Every CEO must be the leading brand ambassador and ensure every department head understands how to bring the brand to life. Many executives believe branding is the responsibility of the marketing director and his or her department. But just as culture isn’t the sole responsibility of HR, brand(ing) is not the sole responsibility of marketing. While the execution of many dimensions of brand(ing) typically reside with the marketing department, the entire executive team has the responsibility to ensure they understand and promote the brand every chance they get. Every department in the organization has a role to play in following through and executing on the “brand promise.” Having an effective brand can give you a competitive edge in a competitive marketplace.