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Branding – The Why Not The What.

February 10, 2017

A Brand Is Not A Logo And Some Fonts.

What does the term “brand” mean to you? To the average person on the street, a “brand” is simply a logo. Taking things a step further some people might even stretch to include some colours and fonts into the mix of what they would consider a brand to be.

To be fair this is indeed how this term came into the English language – apparently, back in the day, cattle farmers would “brand” a mark into their cattle to differentiate which beasts were theirs.

However, treating your “brand” in such a way is really to miss a much bigger, more powerful concept. A concept, which once understood, can have a huge impact on how successful your marketing will be.

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A Brand Is The Meaning People Attach

At Fifteen we define “brand” as “the meaning that your audience attaches to your company, product or service”. Your brand encapsulates all of the emotion, feeling and energy that a potential customer feels upon coming across any aspect of your offer.

Coca cola is not simply a logo. It’s an experience. It’s the fizz of the product. It’s the shape of the bottle. It’s the packaging. It’s the sweet taste. It’s the latest advert. It’s also, and this is the most important aspect, the historic feeling of happiness which stretches right back to our childhoods when we were first allowed to indulge in our first can of “pop” on a hot summers day.

That is a “brand”.

Managing Meaning

At Fifteen part of our service is “branding” and this is my speciality. “Branding” is the exercise of managing meaning. Managing it in regards to the messages, visual look and feel, images, marketing tactics and ultimately the experience people have as they interact with your company from becoming aware of you right through to being a repeat customer.

The number one question is how to convey meaning. In new markets, time is often spent communicating and educating consumers of the practical applications and benefits of a new product. Meaning is derived by what the product does.

In today’s crowded market places though where a consumer has access to millions of products which do the same thing why will they choose your service or product over others? Often it will come down to how well you communicate why you do what you do. Why the product exists. Why it was invented. 

If these “whys” resonate with me and what I believe and am trying to achieve then I will buy your product. I may even be prepared to pay a premium for your product above your competition because I attach more meaning to your brand than theirs.

Where Do I Begin?

But how best do you communicate the why? First, you need to know why. For some businesses, this can be quite easy. For larger teams launching new products, it can be more difficult. Time needs to be spent with leadership teams need to work through the why. Sometimes it can be helpful to speak to customers to get some insights in and around why they buy your products.

Next, you need to work on how you articulate the why. How do you communicate meaning? What words you use. What imagery you use. How do you tell your story?

These processes can take time to define internally but it is only until the leadership team is clear on the key themes and united that brands can communicate effectively.

Tell A Story

The most ancient form of adding meaning to anything is through stories. As humans, we tell ourselves stories and see our self as the hero of that story. The meaning we attach to our society, culture and religion is usually conveyed by stories.

Understanding your customers stories and how your brand fits with that story is an essential component of beginning to have a wider branding strategy which can help to communicate with your audience on a deeper emotional level.

Knowing your story and the type of character your brand plays within the story can then form the basis of how your brand acts and behaves.

Much more could be said. Hopefully thought this post will have done enough to show there is more to “branding” than simply choosing an icon, font and colour.

Remember. It’s not simply the what. The real power comes from the why.




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