What is a brand?
My pal (and incredible drummer and very funny guy) Allen Lynch bought me a wonderful present for my birthday. Allen actually found a company out west to handcraft a genuine branding iron with my company’s logo on it. It’s a… “Turkel Brand.”
Since I have no intention of heating the brand up and permanently marking any of my livestock, my branding iron has instead taken up a prominent position on my desk as a fun paperweight and sometime distraction when I’m on the phone.
Thanks to a lot of swinging it around and mock-plunging it into the computer screens on my desk, the branding iron got me to thinking about this simple question: What is a brand?
Of course I’ve read all sorts of definitions of what a brand is and what it’s not. Some people say that a brand is a company name or logo or tagline. Some people think a brand is a company’s advertising. Some think it’s a company’s vision strategy or mission.
I’ve heard brands described as your reputation or the source of your credibility. I’ve heard it said that a brand is what people think of you or what they say about you when you’re not in the room.
I think it’s something else.
A brand preinforces and reinforces who you are and what you offer. That is, it prepares your audiences for what you are going to do for them and it reminds them of what you’ve provided.
Much like preheating the oven before baking a cake, or oiling the pan before you pour in the batter, your brand helps your customers prepare for the work you’re going to do or the products you’re going to provide.
But that’s not the end of your brand’s advantages. Because after you’re done doing the work your brand remains behind, reassuring and reminding your customer of the benefits of what you provided for them.
Simply put, a brand provides a shortcut to understanding. When properly constructed and managed, your brand offers a shorthand explanation and validation of what your product or service means for your customer.
This unique ability to ‘preinforce’ and reinforce the high quality of what you deliver is the true value of a brand and helps explain both why you need a great brand and what it will do for you.
Today all of us live in a world where most products are very good at their intended utility and where they’re all almost instantly available. What sets companies apart and makes them more or less valuable is no longer the function of the product or service itself but how well the brand resonates with its consumer and the potential consumer before, during, and after the purchase experience.