Branding is more than just a logo.
We talk a lot about branding: brand awareness, brand reputation, brand storytelling… But what is a brand to begin with? A logo? A product? A font set and some fancy style guides?
All of these things make a brand, but a brand itself is more than the sum of its parts.
What does your company stand for?
Does your company hold transparency and efficiency as core values? Is environmental sustainability an intrinsic part of your organization? Maybe you believe in giving back to the local community, or lowering technological barriers through open-source software.
Whatever your values are, they should form a key part of your brand. But they won’t if they aren’t embraced by your company, because your customers need to see these values to believe in them.
In other words, you may say you’re an honest person. You may even care very much about honesty. But if you don’t behave in a honest fashion, then no one will perceive you as being honest. If your company says it values transparency, but isn’t actually transparent, then transparency isn’t part of its brand.
Your relationship with your customer defines your brand.
At the end of the day, you can’t define your brand as any single, concrete element of your company. It’s more of an abstract concept: anytime anyone interacts with your company, they experience your brand. That means they experience your brand when they:
- look up your website
- receive an email from a member of your company
- enter your office building or brick-and-mortar store
- make a customer service call
- see you on social media
- hear about your business from a friend
So if you want to build your brand and incorporate into it the values you hold dear, then those values have to be present in each of those interactions:
- If you value transparency, your customer has to be able to find the information they need when they look at your website.
- If you value efficiency, your emails should be clear and to the point without leaving out crucial information.
- If you value environmental sustainability, your customers should be able to find recycling bins when they walk into your location.
Your brand is defined by how a customer feels whenever they interact with your company. Have you made that relationship a positive one?