Let’s {Not} Talk About Branding

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Everywhere you go branding seems to be a hot button issue.  “Pick us! We can help you create your brand!”

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So often branding, or your brand, is viewed as something we need to do or talk about.  As our beloved IMC 618 class and Marty Neumeier taught us, a brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what your customers say it is.  Yes, companies have some control over their brand however, it really boils down to how your customers view your product, service, or organization.  That being said, companies and organizations need to stop talking about branding, or a brand, as something you can completely manipulate and control.  Discussions around branding should stem from a great understanding of who you are as an organization and how you are viewed by your clients.  Your promise to them (who you say you are) should be the foundation for every major decision within your organization.

A few years ago, my organization went through what we lovingly refer to as our Branding Project.  We created a process, similar to the Brand Gap, in which we reevaluated who we were as an organization and how we were viewed by the students on our campus.  It was a very long process that we’re still developing today.  Yes, we did come out of the project with a shiny new logo, but that wasn’t the most important development.  We also came out of the project with a much deeper understanding of who we are, why that matters, and what we need to do in order to live up to the expectations of students on campus  Now, a company can’t be all things to all people and by staying true to your brand you may lose people.  That’s ok! Your remaining customers will become more invested and you will find new customers.  It’s important to think of branding as attempting to align your identity (internal) and your image (external).

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If a company aims to improve their brand image, and discussions on branding need to occur, those conversations should run the gamete of the entire organization, not focus solely on the marketing department.  Are your employees happy and do they treat customers with respect?  What kind of environment are customers stepping into when they walk into your business?  Is the facility clean and welcoming?  Do your customers understand the message you’re trying to convey?  Many times, companies measure the results of initiatives aimed to improve their brand image in a marketing scope.  Increased brand awareness is equated to increased website traffic, more engagement on social media, or an increase in sales.  Those are all great measurement tools however, companies and organizations must measure the content of the message as well as the effectiveness of the  marketing.  Organizations today should set separate branding and marketing goals.  Think about measuring the effectiveness of the content and the effectiveness of the content placement.

It is extremely important for your organization to take their brand image and identity into consideration every day.  However, a shift needs to occur from talking ABOUT branding, to talking from a branding perspective.  Incorporate how you want your customers to view you into every aspect of your organization and you’ll find greater success!

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3 Responses to “Let’s {Not} Talk About Branding”

  1. On a blog roll | Kat Shanahan Says:

    […] program, I fall more in love with branding (and more irritated when people use and abuse the term, view my branding rant here).  Emerging media allows customers to easily interact with your company which can help and hurt […]

  2. The Designful Company | WVU IMC Student Blog Says:

    […] same can be said for a brand. Too many time I’ve heard companies say “we’re going to take 20 minutes to talk about branding” instead of making it the core of their organization and integrating it into all of their daily […]

  3. Taking Marketing Beyond the Marketing Department: Market Research | WVU IMC Student Blog Says:

    […] as an overall asset to our organization – instead of a department I supervise.    IMC and branding are the keys to success for the entire organization.   As members of the WVU IMC program we know […]

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