Rebecca Battman, Head of Brand, answers your essential questions.
Today: What is a brand?
In very simple terms a brand represents all the reasons why we buy a particular product or service:
- It’s what we know about that company from everything other people tell us. Think reputation.
- It’s how a company tries to influence us directly. Think promotion.
- It’s what we see all around us from van liveries to packaging, uniforms and signage. Think identity.
- It’s what we experience when we enter any stores, pick up the phone to a call centre or increasingly transact online. Think service design.
- It’s also how we are treated when we engage with any employees who represent the brand. Think culture.
There’s a lot to deal with.
A good technical definition might be:
“a unique and magnetic proposition for your business, product or service that adds value to day-to-day activities and creates longer term value”.
I like this because it explains that a brand is a ‘proposition’. That means it’s a story and a promise. It also uses the term ‘magnetic’, explaining that appeal and relevance are also important. The proposition/story/promise must connect with the views, values and personality of your target audience.
Adding value to day-to-day activities is all about helping the business to deliver its short term goals. So think about the Profit and Loss account. Essentially an effective brand will help you to sell more products and services, more often, to more people, hopefully at a higher margin. Creating longer term value is a Balance Sheet issue. This about helping the business to develop shareholder value. Ultimately a business with a strong brand will be worth much more than a business with a weak brand.
Technical definitions only go so far to explain what a brand is. A better description might be ‘a catalyst to change the way that people, think, feel and act’. This helps us understand that brands can influence us on a rational, emotional and behavioural level.
So, what is a brand? Here’s a summary:
- the story you tell
- the products and services you offer
- the image you project
- the experience you deliver
- the culture you foster
- and the reputation that you build as a result of all of the above.