I often find that much of the sense and power of branding seems to get lost in translation from insight to implementation. What do I mean by this? Seeing as so much of brand thinking and branding is based on common business sense and proven people psychology, then surely its power in the business arena is irrefutable, right? Well, maybe not…. or at least so it might appear.
At the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart: feelings, emotions and a sense of peer-group connectedness… feeling part of something special or unique. But there’s also the part that the mind plays in influencing our choices: image, perceptions, beliefs and associations… being seen to be associated with something special or unique.
Add to that the attraction of a distinct ‘brand personality’ ….and altogether this becomes a heady mixture, a cocktail of characteristics that can be managed to be powerful or pedestrian, cool or calculated, gregarious or passive, cut-through or stand-still. Given that there is so much in brands that captivates, and so much that inspires messaging, storytelling and communications, it still astounds me when I hear business thinking that regards the brand as little more than a logo!
Recently, at a business networking event in London, I asked a senior company Director in a leading crowdfunding firm what their brand stood for. He obviously understood ‘brand’ and its power in business and, indeed, its importance in putting a market value on the financial worth of his company’s clients. And yet his three-word definition of what his company brand stood for, although clear, concise and confident, went no further than a precise and accurate description of what the business ‘does’. It failed dismally to deliver any sense of brand purpose never mind brand uniqueness or distinct, ownable brand values. In short, he annunciated a very accurate business description but by no means an emotive brand proposition.
Seeing as brands work to distinguish and de-commoditise business offers, and thereby deliver competitive stand-out, it remains remarkable just how many businesses seem to miss this sweet-spot of brand differentiation. The point is that it is the brand that singularly does justice to the blood, sweat and tears of the folks congregating week-in week-out to deliver the product and output of a business (what the business does). In this age of the machine, the micro-chip and the mass-communicated message, it is the brand that will best platform the alluring human touch, the human element of the business… its passion, emotion, heritage and personal craftsmanship… the TLC that too often lies latent, even dormant and certainly untapped when business description is dressed up in the guise of brand promise.
The implications are clear: where companies have brand insights and are clear about their values, their personality, their unique proposition to the customer, and where this delivers real relevance and added-value, then it behoves company leaders to make sure that this translates in full to the marketplace. And whilst the insights might be discovered and brand values defined, it is then the savvy use of words and images that will translate these insights and values to the consumer online and offline, through digital and traditional platforms, both outside in the external marketplace as well as (critically) inside the company right across and throughout the employee base.
Irrefutable it may be, but translating the power of branding into accessible and market-winning customer value is soon all about astute and agile implementation, once the insights have been discovered and the values crisply defined. So, for sure, the brand is about much more than a logo or a new logo design, and any brand owners or Directors that deign to leave it there are missing more than a brand trick… they’re missing the entire point of managing for brand success and the powerful benefits of delivering a unique brand experience.