Most people can quickly think of a handful of brands they like when asked. These might be brands that make products they use or wear everyday (Nike, Apple Starbucks), or aspirational brands that they hope to own someday (maybe a Tesla). And if shown a series of brand logos like those below, most people can quickly match them to the appropriate company.
Ask people why those logos mean something to them and they will likely hesitate. How we feel about brands is often subconscious – we might not even realize why we do or don’t like a brand. Sometimes we feel affinity for a brand because of the way their advertising makes us feel (think Coke, Nike or Apple) or how our friends feel about the brand, or something we believe and simply can’t even put words together to explain.
And, yet, there lies the true definition of a brand. The meaning of brand is something defined by your customers and lives in their head and heart. How people feel about your brand is as authentic and real as are the collective experiences they’ve had with your brand, product or service.
Don’t let this definition fool you: great brands aren’t created accidently or by random acts of marketing. The only way to build the brand you “want” is to start with the end in mind and be intentional with all your marketing efforts. Defining your brand persona is about what you believe and aspire to, but also what you want your ideal audience to believe about you.
Your brand promise means that you deliver on those beliefs and feelings every day, through every touch point with your audience. This is where it’s easy to slip. One front-line employee or a manager having a bad day can shatter how someone perceives your brand. Defining your brand persona and promise is where you start. But delivering on it goes beyond defining it into hiring, training, internal processes and practices, management, benefit policies, etc.
How do you want people to feel about your brand, product or service? This is not about whether they like your product, but about how they really feel when they run their first 10k in your running shoes. Do you want them to feel strong, serious and unstoppable?
What do you want them to tell their friends about your brand, product or service? Do you want them to shout from the mountaintop that they couldn’t live without your product, or quietly wait for friends to potentially ask for a recommendation? Start thinking with the end in mind and then plan how you’ll get there.