Late last week, I received an email from a client with a question so fundamental yet so frequently asked. She was hoping I knew of an article that helped to answer the question. Because I didn’t, I told her I would write a blog post in which I try to succinctly answer the question. So here it goes.
The question was “I have to speak to our staff during professional development next week about image and branding. Why is it important?”
While it sounds extremely basic, it’s a question too many fail to ask and others fail to answer in honest ways. Too many also try to split hairs with definitions of terms that they don’t understand like “brand” and image.” We encounter those who think that your brand is your logo and your image is whatever you want it to be.
To really explain the importance of your brand – for companies and organizations of all types – I turned to one of Tanner Friedman’s close collaborators, George Pililouras, who has extraordinary experience in brand development. Here’s George’s take:
“A brand represents ‘Who You Are’ to your customers. A brand is a promise that gets proven and fulfilled in all areas of communication. A brand is something to experience that lives in the mind of consumers in an emotional and rational way. Simply put, it’s what comes to your customer’s mind when they hear your name.
Why is it important? My view is simply that ‘no one (naturally) cares about you, so you need to make them care.’ A brand is critically important as it represents everything about you and your organization. It’s how you are perceived by people and equally important, how they feel about you. Your brand must be liked before it’s going to get consideration. People have to mentally buy into your brand, before they’ll consider buying your products or services. Of equal importance your brand has to be consistent in the market and have a unified voice.”
George does a great job of capturing the essence of these important fundamentals. What Don and I often like to say the key to building a brand is to communicate, through all platforms and methods, who you are, what you do and how you’re different.
Brands can be developed and images can be shaped through a variety of PR and communications tools but that always takes conscious, consistent, honest effort over an extended period of time.
Some times the finer points of communication can make a difference. But, in considering whether you have the brand you desire, it’s crucial to start with the basics.