A common misconception about branding is that it’s all about creative –logos, colors, look and feel, advertising, slogans, tag lines etc. While these are the most visible aspects of a brand and contribute a great deal towards distinguishing a brand from its competitors, a brand is so much more. In fact, a brand in many respects is similar to an iceberg. The tip of an iceberg is what sailors can see, but experienced sailors know full well that the majority of that iceberg lies below the surface.
The creative aspects of a brand are that tip of the iceberg. What lies below the surface of a brand is what really matters and often is not even associated with the concept of “branding”. Brands help consumers to differentiate products and services from their competitors. Today consumers have an abundance of choices across nearly every single product category. Brands provide consumers with a way to be more efficient in their purchasing decision-making.
A brand is a promise to consumers that is different and hopefully better than the competition. The creative aspects of the brand can convey that differentiating promise in clever ways. However, making good on the brand’s promise will determine the lasting success of the brand. The way that employees of a brand deliver on the brand promise at every single touch point with customers is the mass below the iceberg. Every day employees have the opportunity to be brand builders or brand killers. Brand building behaviors are consistent with and reflective of the creative aspects of the brand. Brand killing behaviors are at odds with the creative.
This is an important point for businesses that don’t have large advertising budgets. Build your brand from the inside out by making sure your employees know what your business stands, for, what separates you from your competition and the role they play in delivering on the brands promise. This will have a longer lasting effect than the most expensive advertising campaign and is also far more sustainable.
Branding is not the same as advertising
|Short term||Long term|
|Delivers the message||Drives the message|
|Product/service focused||Relationship focused|
|Communicates your point of difference||Establishes your point of difference|
|Makes your identity public||Brings your identity to life|
|Needs a strong brand to be credible||Strong brands don’t need to advertise|
Ad campaigns, even the best ones are forgettable, a great brand can stand the test of time.