Something that comes up a lot when we’re working with new clients is that they get mixed up when we ask them about their brand.
So this is a bit of a rant ... but ... I want to make something clear: your logo is not your brand.
So what is a “brand”?
As always, because I’m a nerd, let’s start with some definitions:
Brand: the perceived emotional image or identity of a company or product.
Branding: the process of creating and establishing a brand.
Marketing: the process of promoting and selling a company’s product or services.
Sales: the actual process of closing the sale and exchanging money for a product or service.
(click here for a more detailed definitions list that breaks down activities and provides examples)
So, based on the definition above, you can kind of understand why people get “brand” and “logo” mixed up so easily. When business owners are creating their logo, it is the visual encapsulation of their emotional image. At least, it’s meant to be some sort of visual that reflects who they are as a company.
The problem is that too many business owners stop there.
They think of “brand creation” and “logo creation” as a single item on their checklist of to-dos for the marketing team before they head back to do the “real work”. And this is the mistake.
Why it’s important to understand your brand
A lot of business owners I’ve worked with have made the same fundamental mistake: they never take their customer’s perspective.
They are in their own heads because there’s simply so much to do when it comes to running a company. Your day-to-day takes up your attention and it’s hard to step away and do “fluff work”.
As a business owner myself, I get it. As we’ve grown in size during the pandemic, we hit a lot of new milestones and each one came with new challenges. It’s hard to get out of your own head or even find a minute in the day to reflect. But it’s important.
Brand (and branding) is one of these things that many people think of as a “one and done” type task. They have their logo and their brand colors. They might have some messaging and tone. Other than that, they know who they are, they know what their company is all about, they know everything they need to know about the company. So they’re done, right?
Well, not quite.
If you read “The Brand Gap” and listen to its author, Marty Neumeier, talk about “brand”, he takes the stance that your brand is perception of your company in the minds of your customers. Each customer. So though your brand might be clear in your head, it doesn’t mean it’s clear to the outside world. Or, worse, it’s not well perceived by your customers and potential customers.
It’s so important to take the outside perspective and understand what your company looks (and feels) like to the outside world. As a business owner, you have one idea of your company, your employees have a different one, and your customers are only able to look in from the outside. What do each of these perceptions look like? Do they match up? Are you, as the key stakeholder, happy with these perceptions?
Why it’s so important that we know your brand
So, finally, comes us, your marketing team.
Our job is to think about your customers and how they think. Our job is to craft a story around your company so that your brand is well perceived. Our job is to get the word out about all the positive elements that make up who you are as an organization.
To make our job easier, we need to get inside your head and understand how you would like the public to see your company. The clearer it is to you, the easier it us for us. The easier it is for us, the more direct (and less expensive) it is to reach your ideal customer with the correct message.
Your brand is an important thing to define. When it’s understood and done well, it pays dividends in efficiency and serves as an important guide for your marketing efforts. It goes way beyond just a logo and needs to connect to your intended audience in a way that’s compelling.
Every gap you leave in your brand is a gap that gets filled by whoever is thinking about your company. It leaves an open space for you to lose control over your messaging which can potentially lead to unanswered questions or negative perceptions.
You know why your company is special, interesting, and important but it doesn’t count until your audience knows these things too.