I’ve been part of some pretty amazing marketing projects over my career. From product launches to e-commerce projects and big ad campaigns to name a few. For some reason, a branding project always seems to get everyone’s blood pumping in a company, unlike almost any other project.
I believe it’s because there’s always excitement about putting your mark on something long term and a brand change is seen as a highly strategic move by most people -- most of the time. Personally, I’ve branded, launched a brand, rebranded, branded products, updated a brand’s look and feel, developed on-brand messaging, etc… If it’s brand related, I think I’ve done it. No two projects are the same and that does it keep interesting and challenging.
Over the years, I've found that the term “brand” is an ambiguous definition, is iterative and means different things to different people. Most people think of a brand solely in terms of “brand identity” and only think that their logos, trademarks or slogans are their brands.
Google has a slightly boring definition of a brand:
In reality, a brand is much more than that definition, or a logo or a tagline. It’s truly everything that embodies a company--intrinsically and extrinsically. It’s an emotion, reaction, experience, affinity. To us as buyers or customers, it’s also about experiences and expectations.
I think Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame said it best, “Authentic brands don't emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does...” That’s about as good a definition for branding as you can have, in my opinion. Think about it, a brand “emanates from everything the company does…”
A brand permeates every pore of a company – especially successful companies. It just oozes into the culture, personnel, service and products. Brands do evolve though. We’ve all seen our favorite brands evolve and change messaging and positioning. Most of the time, there weren’t tremendous impacts to the overall brand unless the core product or service changed. What consumers or buyers really cared about did not change -- the experience and association of the brand. It's their personal experience and the total embodiment of that brand.
Consistency of on-brand message, managing assets and content and keeping shifting corporate strategy from impacting a brand are just some of the challenges marketers face day to day with brand management. In this day and age of virtual association and work environments, the challenge is even more daunting.
How do you manage a brand effectively without diluting it, ensuring it stays relevant, fresh and top of mind?