Having an effective brand can be the difference between being seen as a low-cost interchangeable commodity or a valuable partner who solves problems and is deemed worthy of loyalty. An effective brand allows you to clearly define who you are and who you serve. It allows you to build influence and trust so that people will tell your story and become champions of your cause. In short, an effective brand allows people to believe in you and want to be part of your success.
Before we can understand how to create an effective brand, we need to understand what a brand is and what it is not. A brand is not a logo. It is not a color pallet, nor is it a slogan. A brand is who you are, what you do, who you do it for and why they care about you. It is what differentiates you in the marketplace and communicating your brand message allows people to understand your value to them.
Too many companies do not live their brand. They treat it like a website that is built and then never augmented or added to. A brand is a living, breathing thing that needs to occupy the hearts and minds of those it comes in contact with daily to be relevant. Too many people create mission and vision statements for their brands and then ignore them, or worse yet, forget them. These are just words on a page that no one remembers, and no one builds their lives around. What if instead, you had a brand story for yourself or your company? One that tells where you came from, where you are today, who you serve, why you serve them and how you will continue to solve issues into the future. What if every employee, customer, and stakeholder had the ability to make this story their own and retell it and live it daily? Do you think that story would then spread and people would believe in the brand because what was being said was also being done within the organization? It would! Take the time to understand the story of your brand and how it helps others achieve their goals and then make sure the company is working towards making that their mission each and every day.
Brands can be destroyed far quicker than they can be created. When brands do not listen to their customers and employees, are seen as out of touch, not trustworthy or deceitful, the value of the brand dissipates quickly. Remember, if there is no trust, there is no influence and without influence, all a brand is, is another option in the marketplace that is fighting amongst all the other low-cost, low-value options. Mind the third rail of apathy!