branding marketing

Companies Don’t Control Their Brands: Customers Do. It’s Time To Rebrand Branding

Gee RanasinhaMarketing

What is your brand? Where is your brand?

Your brand is an ephemeral quantity that exists in the minds of your customers, created based upon their direct and indirect experiences with your company, product or service. Your brand is one of the reasons why your customers choose your business value offering over that of your competitors’.

It’s one of your business differentiators.

Branding isn’t something that gets created in your marketing department. Every single person in your organization directly or indirectly contributes to shaping and defining your brand. More than that, unless every single person within your organization understands and actively engages in your branding strategy, your branding initiative will fail.

Brand Isn’t (Always) Tangible

Most people think ‘branding’ is your company logo. Or a particular set and shade of colors. Or the typeface you use on your website, brochures, and letterhead.

It’s not that. At least, it’s not just that.

Branding is the way we differentiate one business from another, but not (just) in terms of logo, colors, and the rest. At its core, it’s the very essence of the promise you’re making to your customer. It’s a long-term, never-ending commitment.

The importance of branding cannot be overlooked. But it’s also important to understand the difference between branding and marketing – they are not the same thing.

Ultimately, while you can control the message, promise, look, and execution of a brand strategy, you cannot control the outcome. At the end of the day, the person who controls your brand is your customer.

Don’t believe me? Perhaps you’re aware of the pitch for changing the Pepsi logo, entitled “The Pepsi Gravitational Field”, has made its way onto the internet. It’s supposedly been produced by The Arnell Group, who won a $1.5m contract to redesign Pepsi’s brand.

Turning The BS Dial to 11

The PDF document that was leaked is full of unbelievable hyperbole. Not standard ad agency hyperbole, mind you. This is hyperbole taken to the next level. This is turning the “BS Dial” to 11.

The document talks about light rays being subjected to the gravitational pull of Pepsi, of “The Pepsi Globe”, “Authentic Geometry” and “…the dynamic of perimeter oscillations.” Yeah, I’m not any the wiser either. But then if you’re getting one-and-a-half big ones for a branding gig, you need to come up with something that the other guys wouldn’t have thought of, right?

So could this be just another example why so many business owners distrust the marketing industry? 27 pages of bovine excrement, dressed up to impress/coerce/paralyze a client into handing over their money? Personally, I think that it’s neither. I think that it’s a well-orchestrated spoof. A viral marketing piece of galactic proportions. Or maybe that’s what I want it to be.

Branding Is For Employees Too

Developing, honing, and protecting a corporate brand isn’t just important from the customer viewpoint. As well as helping to create loyal customers, it’s an important component in the creation of loyal employees.

Everything in your business that’s customer-facing influences brand perception – and that includes your employees. A business with a well-developed brand gives people something to believe in, something to support.

It’s a key component in helping employees understand the underlying cause, or purpose, of the organization they work for. It helps them feel that they matter, that what they’re doing matters.

Your Brand Is Created By Your Customer

Brand management is either an art or a science, depending on which side of town you’re from. Creating and building a brand helps your customers in their decision-making process, and is a crucial part of developing any startup or small business. Not only does effective branding take time to design and implement. But it’s difficult to measure the results of your branding work.

However the thing about branding is – even if you don’t realize it – your company/product/service already has a brand. No matter how much (or how little) you sell, your business value offering has already been partly or completely formed in the minds of your customers. They have made up their minds as to what you stand for. They’ve pigeonholed you.

Companies don’t control their brands. Customers do.

Your brand has a personality. It communicates a fundamental promise and has a position in relation to your competition. Branding isn’t a function of marketing. It’s a function of an organization’s entire strategy.

Your brand isn’t your product, your logo or your trademark. It’s all of that, and yet so much more. Yet most people don’t get it.

Perhaps it’s time for branding to get a rebrand.