Home » What is Brand?

What is BRAND?

Brand – What is it really?/ The Basics of Branding / So how does “Branding” work with your logo?
How do build your brand? Easy? / Actually, not that easy. Why? / A Cup of Happiness

Brand – What is it really?
The Basics of Branding
So how does “Branding” work with your logo?
How do build your brand? Easy?
Actually, not that easy. Why?
A Cup of Happiness

What is it really?

You’ve heard of the term “brand”.  But why is it so hard to explain what it is and how it works.

Over the years, I’ve asked the question about “Brand” to many marketers and executives, and the answers are usually, at best, incomplete or vague – “it’s your logo”, “it’s about feelings”, “it’s your colors”, “it’s your company image”.

Companies will send their marketing people to “Branding” classes to find out how to make branding work for them.  But they come back from the classes without really affecting any changes.  Why?

The Basics of Branding

The term “Branding” probably comes from very early times (“brandr” means burn in Norse language), meaning to burn a sign or emblem onto your livestock, so you can always identify them as your own.

In more recent times, “branding” means to “burn” an image of the company into the minds of consumers (or customers). But, by “image”, I don’t literally mean a picture.  I am referring to a “feeling” or “feelings” about a company.

What do you “feel” when you think about Starbucks?   Comfortable (ambience), Relaxed (drinking coffee, eating snacks), Happy (friendly employees), Fashionable (high class, expensive coffee), Safe (clean bathrooms).  When I see a Starbucks logo, I feel “Happy” – It means I am “Branded” to Starbucks with a feeling of Happiness.

And it’s wrong to think that “brand” only applies to consumer products.  Even B2B companies that supply components will develop a brand awareness for their own customers (e.g. reliable, honest, efficient).  I call it an “industrial brand” as opposed to a “consumer brand”.

The Basics of Branding

The term “Branding” probably comes from very early times (“brandr” means burn in Norse language), meaning to burn a sign or emblem onto your livestock, so you can always identify them as your own.

In more recent times, “branding” means to “burn” an image of the company into the minds of consumers (or customers). But, by “image”, I don’t literally mean a picture.  I am referring to a “feeling” or “feelings” about a company.

What do you “feel” when you think about Starbucks?   Comfortable (ambience), Relaxed (drinking coffee, eating snacks), Happy (friendly employees), Fashionable (high class, expensive coffee), Safe (clean bathrooms).  When I see a Starbucks logo, I feel “Happy” – It means I am “Branded” to Starbucks with a feeling of Happiness.

And it’s wrong to think that “brand” only applies to consumer products.  Even B2B companies that supply components will develop a brand awareness for their own customers (e.g. reliable, honest, efficient).  I call it an “industrial brand” as opposed to a “consumer brand”.

So how does
“Branding” work
with your logo?

The logo is certainly important for branding, though it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

First, it’s best to describe how branding and logos work.

I walk into a Starbucks. A friendly employee greets me with “Good Morning” and consequently, I feel “happy” – and while I am feeling happy, the Starbucks logo is conspicuously visible on the barista’s cap and apron, and subconsciously, I make the association between the “Starbucks” logo and happiness.  Any emotion is an anchor for your memory – you’re more likely to remember things that impact you emotionally.  And since “happiness” is an emotion, it is easily embedded (branded) into my memory, alongside the Starbucks logo. 

But the real value to Starbucks is this – anytime I see the Starbucks logo from then on, whether it’s in an Ad, on my coffee cup, or on someone’s tee-shirt,  I will feel some degree of happiness, at least at a subconscious level.  And what do i do whenever I’m feeling blue?  I go to back to Starbucks for another cup of happiness.

Get it?

How do you
build your brand?
Easy?

If you’ve ever been to a “Branding Class”, one of the first things the instructor asks is …

“What do you want your customers to feel when they see your logo?  Happy? Comfortable? Relaxed?”

Next, you need to ask yourself, how do you go about branding with those values?

Train your employees to be courteous (customers feel happy),  have well-designed interiors with ambience (customers feel comfortable),  and provide good coffee and tasty snacks (customer feels relaxed).

Do all those things and “they will come”.

Easy.

Actually, not that easy. Why?

Actually, not that easy. Why?

Brand is about consistency and culture:

It’s not realistic to expect all your employees put on a happy face every time they are on shift and who wants to clean a dirty bathroom. It’s more about establishing culture, a pervasive company-wide mission that everyone buys into. This gives you the best chance to consistently send the same message that you can build your brand from.

Brand is about people and emotions:

You have to understand your customers intimately. You have to be empathetic. You have to walk a mile in their shoes. You have to know what your customers value and how you can impact their lives. And if you frame your brand message with those things in mind, it will give you the best chance to get closer to your customers.

Brand is about time and trust:

Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither are brands. Brand needs to be cultured, nurtured, and attended to. And it’s after persistent, earnest effort over time, do your customers start to put trust in what you do. I dare to say, most of the successful businesses have started on napkins and in garages, plowing through long nights and experiencing failures, before finally generating something that customers can believe in.

A Cup of
Happiness

So why is brand so hard to explain?  Because, it’s not only about a product.  It’s not only about a logo.  It’s not only about “feelings”.  It’s not only about employees and clean bathrooms.  It’s about everything you do and do exceptionally well.

And that’s why casually sending an employee to “Branding Class” doesn’t make sense unless the entire company is behind the idea, especially the brass.

Anyone can make a cup of coffee.  Then why is Starbucks a multi-billion dollar business?   I think it’s safe to say it has a lot to do with brand.  Starbucks has built a powerful coffee empire because it has established a pervasive culture and consistent, high quality brand.  The employees are consistently friendly, empowered and competent.  The restaurant decor consistently has great atmosphere and ambience.   Coffee always tastes great, snacks are delicious, and their bathrooms are always, always clean.

And that makes me happy!