What is branding?

The Far Tree at BeWILDerwood - A truly embedded brand
The Far Tree at BeWILDerwood – A truly embedded brand

Exceptional branding is about creating and controlling every single element of the customer experience. The way you put these elements together is the way you are. It is you. It is what, who and why you are. It is your brand.

Branding is a way of being, a way of thinking and your way.

Wolff Olins, the agency that are widely seen as the creators of modern branding describe it as creating the situation where you become ‘one of one’ and not one of many. You become unique in your own market.

Bill Schley in his book ‘Why Johnny Can’t brand’, takes this a little further. He says that to create a brand, this could, or maybe even should, be in a market you have invented yourself in order to allow you to differentiate yourself clearly. More of this in bit.

The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary has a rather different and remarkably narrow view on what constitutes a brand. To us it appears out of date and well wide of the mark of where current thinking is based.

noun [U]
The act of giving a company a particular design or symbol in order to advertise its products and services:
Example. ‘The successful branding and marketing of the new beer has already boosted sales and increased profits.’

I’m afraid I take a different view again. A brand to me is a way of being, not just a new style of advertising and packaging.

Its more than the way you act, it’s the way that you are.

The dictionary view may be that it links to the marketing of a product, for me, its intrinsically linked to the whole outlook of the organisation. It sets the entire agenda for how the marketing should begin to behave. It is most definitely NOT just the ‘prettying up’ of the advertising and packaging.

Virgin, Nike and Google, to name but three, are not just about clever marketing. They are about being built on a brilliant basis throughout every possible touchpoint.

They set an agenda for how their brand should be perceived and work incredibly hard to ensure that wherever anyone comes into contact with them, they will get the correct Virgin, Nike or Google experience. What makes it even more exceptional with these three is that they are not even that paranoid about the logo being consistently used.

Perhaps there’s a lesson in this for all of us?

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