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 To us it appears out of date and well wide of the mark of where current thinking is based.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?

One bad brand experience will taint your brand forever

We’ve been having problems with T-Mobile and their Blackberry services for months. Every time it sent and email to one of our handsets, it bounced back to tell the sender it hadn’t arrived.

Helpful stuff – particularly as it did arrive and we had people ringing and complaining and all sorts.

We rang T-Mobile on loads of occasions and no-one seemed to want to own the problem and get it sorted.

Finally, I rang to give them one last chance or we were going to shift contractors and then we spoke to Jean.

She took control, involved her techy helper Jason in the problem and was simply brilliant. She promised to call me back five minutes later and then did. She said she thought she had an idea what was causing the issue and would be back to me shortly. Sure enough, she rang back to confirm that it was now mended. It turned out to be something very simple at their end, but no-one else had looked in the right place.

She even said she would call back the next day to ensure the problem had been resolved. Guess what, she did at exactly the time she agreed.

So I thought I would write to their press office telling them they had a star in their team and they should praise her and shout about her from the rooftops.

They sent me back an email almost immediately letting me now they were dealing with it and would be back in touch within 12 hours.
And guess what?

They haven’t been. And its now 42 hours later.

Poor old Jean. She is trying to turn around an underperforming brand single handedly and no-one else seems to be backing her up.

Remember, just ONE bad brand experience will taint your customers view of you – potentially forever.

The best book on branding?

I’ve just finished this brilliant book about branding and ideas. As my real name is Johnny anyway, I only bought it because the title caught my eye. Its not new and in many ways, its not that original, its just very simple back to basics stuff.

Its full of really strong and simple ideas to consider when you are looking at any form of branding or rebranding project.

Did you know for example that Bill Schley states that people only buy ANYTHING for one (or more) of eight reasons?

So what are they?

Well, they want to feel..
more secure,
more attractive,
or more successful.

Has he missed any?

We’ve been wracking our brains to think up any other reasons, but think he has it about covered.

Have a click below if you want to buy it for yourself from Amazon. They have lots in stock new and second hand.

Why Johnny Can’t Brand: Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea