What Is Branding?
This is one place where we know that we set ourselves apart from the other guys and gals. Our philosophy and approach to branding is not unique, but it’s also not as common practice as it should be. Most agencies and professionals lean towards a much more antiquated and old school view of branding. Personally I think the metaphor was misinterpreted once and everyone just nodded their head in agreement and kept repeating it.
Origin of Thought
The old school thought (which is the majority today) is very much like what you’d think of on a cattle farm. The owner of the cattle takes a hot iron and burns a mark into the flesh of the cattle that they own. This helps other cattle farmers recognize the cattle that belong to that farm.
Disclaimer: No animals were harmed or injured in the writing of this blog.
The focus of the mark is the name, shape, size and physical appearance of the mark or “brand”. Also, if you think about it; the next focus is on the other cattle farmers. It has little to nothing to do with the cattle distinguishing which farm they belong to, but instead for the farmers to lay claim to the cattle if there’s any confusion as to whom they belong to. This is very focused on the organization not the cattle consumers.
So, I think it's clear how the farmer is the organization trying to brand, but how are the cattle consumers. The cattle are going to eat, go to safety and get cleaned somewhere. The farmers brand to say that they eat, get cleaned and are safe at our farm. In short they are our customers. It’s a metaphor that I may be making a little more literal, but I’m trying to drive a point.
The traditional definition of branding is the color, shape, size and typeface of a company or organization.
Some people think it is putting a company’s logo all over the market so that people see it everywhere they go. The thought is that if people see the logo more they will trust the company more, believe that it is successful, and eventually buy more from that particular company. This is a good tactic; when it’s attached to the proper strategy. This is still very focused on the organization and not the consumers.
The Truth Behind Branding
Our thought is this: Branding has very little to do with visual aspects of a “mark” or logo. Your logo is not your brand; your brand is not your logo. Your logo is a representation of your brand.
So how does this differ from the origin of thought above? In this way; we know that cattle like most animals can be trained based on their needs; such as eating, and safety. Animals will return to the same place to eat everyday if there’s food for them to eat.
If you’ve ever lived near a lake that harbors ducks or geese, you can tell which ones have been feed by your neighbors. When you walk near the water the ducks and geese come closer or don’t move, while ducks that have not been fed tend to swim or fly away from you as you get closer.
Branding is more emotional, logical, or even intangible than what most people think. Branding is manageable. Don’t get me wrong it is well within your control. Let me say this before we go much deeper, my background is a graphic designer and illustrator. I didn’t want you to think I was another bias marketing guy with no clue about designing logos. Branding should be consumer focused.
How we define branding: Controlling the way people feel, and what people think, when they see or hear your companies name or logo; or interact with your organization.
So What Are You Saying?
The truth is we waste a lot of time and effort redesigning logos and labeling it as re-branding when the truth is that’s just redesigning the logo.
If your customers say that you have bad service; when you redesign your logo does that change how your customers feel about your service? Not at all; they will still say that you have bad service.
So how do we get customers to say that we have good service? I know it seems like such an easy question to answer. Give good service. If it’s that simple, then why do we have so many companies that still get bad reviews when it comes to service? We think it’s because of a very old school perception around branding.
People much like other creatures of nature return where they feel or believe that they are safe, valued and fed on a consistent basis.
Remember when I said that putting your logo everywhere was a good tactic? Here’s why. What happens when a company is known for having bad service and their logo is everywhere? It serves as a constant reminder of their bad experience provoking them to share those bad experiences more.
So how do we manage branding?
Branding starts and ends with strategy; a planned effort with planned tactics that create a specific result. You have to define what you want the consumer to think and feel about your company, then put tactics in place that help support those goals.
Customers don’t often, if ever, select a company because one has a cooler logo than their competitor. It’s about the experience that they have, before during and after they come in contact with your organization.
A Great Example
Currently I admire Chic-Fil-A for their brand experience. They used branding to change the fast-food industry over the past 3-5 years. They did 4 simple things; 3 of which they’ve always done.
- They provide a quality product fast
- They get you your order fast and right (or they make it right at their expense)
- They are consistent
- They added one simple phrase “My Pleasure”
What did Chic-fil-A want their customers to think? What did they want them to know?
- You are important to us
- We know you didn’t have to spend your dollars here
- We appreciate your business
- We are glad to serve you
- We value your time
- We want you to enjoy what you paid for
What was the experience at other fast food places?
- An attitude when you walk in
- An attitude when you order
- An attitude when they take too long
- An attitude when you ask for the stuff you paid for that’s missing
- An attitude with everything
What did every fast food place start saying eventually? “My Pleasure” Did you notice less attitudes when you go to places outside of Chic-fil-A? I did. So how did this work out for Chic-fil-A? A few stats
Chic-fil-A is in the top 10 most profitable fast-food chains in the world. The most profitable in revenue per store and they do it working 1 less day per week than their competitors. They also, have fewer locations than most of their competitors. You may say that this is because of so many varying factors. I will tell you that all of those factors are by design from an effective Brand Strategy.
|Franchise||# of US
Locations in 2012
|Revenue in millions||Revenue per store in millions||Days open per week|
What’s the Goal?
So the original, when I said that the metaphor was misinterpreted, here’s what I meant. The burning was not about the physical brand, but the mental or emotional brand. A good brand, will keep people coming back even when they’ve been burned once. I’m sure those cattle know when and where they will get fed and it has little to do with the physical mark on their bodies.
What will Branding do for Me?
Proper branding will help you determine more than just good service. It will help you hire better, train better, fire better, retain talent, grow faster, get more customers, build awareness, increase positive word of mouth and so much more. With proper branding you can make customers think and feel exactly how you want them to about your company.
So How Do I Start Controlling Customers’ Thoughts & Feeling?
Well, one of three ways. One; build a mind control device. Two; buy a bunch of books and read more blog post so you can try it on your own. Or three; the better way, save time and money by hiring a professional agency, that shares your views on branding, and allow them to work with you to develop a brand strategy and tactics that get the results that you desire for your organization.
The team at E-W would love to partner with to design a wonderful brand for your organization. If you want to design an experience for your customers that has them raving over your organization give us a buzz. We provide a unique Brand Analysis and development process that starts at $2k. We can redesign your brand without redesigning your logo. Give us a call at 757.271.4539 or fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation.