We’re talking about branding – one of the biggest buzzwords in marketing these days

How would you answer the following determiners of Brand?

  1. What are your organization�s unique and defining qualities?

  2. Can you tell me without words; tell me by showing me?

  3. Does every part of your business show and tell the same story?

  4. Would your customers agree with you?

But, what exactly is meant by brand?

A couple of the world’s most recognized brands are those of GE (General Electric), and Nike,
whose swoosh has come to mean “just do it”. These brands use simple graphic representation that
define value and project unique and specific qualities.

Strong brands, represented by logos and augmented by usage standards, assure consistent
deployment. These logos, when vigorously implemented, result in ingrained branding. The consistency builds
on our consciousness – it ingrains mental images around the brand.

For example, we can describe aspects of many logos by closing our eyes and seeing and feeling
the purpose behind the brand. Nike doesn’t always use the graphic swoosh and yet we mentally see the swoosh.
When we see the isolated swoosh we know it’s Nike. This is true mental real estate. This is brand
identification at its most powerful.

Nike is not only a recognizable brand – the brand has very specific meaning to us whether or
not we buy Nike product. Nike is synonymous with sport, sheer activeness, healthy lifestyle, celebrity athletes,
everyday athletes and Nike’s “just do it” message encourages every man, woman and child to get active.
That is powerful branding.

But what if you are not in the Nike or GE league? Should you invest in your brand identification
when you don’t have millions of dollars to promote and advertise to achieve brand recognition?

A resounding YES… with the following proviso.

Creating a brand doesn’t have to be done on a grand scale. It simply needs to be conscious.
Whether your business is a multinational or you are a sole entrepreneur – brand the aspects of your business
that are your unique and defining qualities. A logo and a tag line are a good start, but it is the consistency
of deployment across all levels of your business that will create and reinforce recognition.

Brand deployment could encompass:

  • the experiential, practical and tonal aspects of your Web site

  • your business cards and full stationery package along with all marketing materials

  • every aspect of the customer experience from signage to invoices to warranty information

  • the mechanism for customer follow-up

  • corporate premiums – client gifts

Establishing an identity requires soulful thought and real vision. Your business strategy could
be local, national or international – the feeling that permeates every single contact point – should be predefined
before you sell your first contract or widget.

Remember, you only have the opportunity to make a first impression once.

If you can verbalize and, indeed, document your defining principles – a designer can bring them
to life and a marketer can develop messaging to support and nurture the vision.

Nike’s image is further molded through the media. Sponsorship of sporting events. Affiliations
and visibility help project the brand.

You can use some of the same vehicles to broadcast your brand.

  • you can submit articles around your expertise to media that reaches your market.

  • you can sponsor local sport or charitable organizations to demonstrate your values.

  • you can information-share or simply share encouragement to local organizations
    through speaking engagements.

  • you can disseminate pertinent information via e-newsletters or print.

  • you can use many other public opportunities to say and demonstrate your
    organization’s beliefs.

Tom Stoyan, Canada Sales Coach expounds that “It isn’t what you know that counts,
rather it is what you do with what you know – that counts.”

Consider branding as a conscious, visible and subliminal indication of what defines you as an
organization. Verbalize, commit to print and consistently exemplify that which are your unique and defining
qualities and you will be achieving brand recognition.

Nora Camps is principal at DUO Strategy and Design Inc. where she helps companies across North
America align opportunity with possibility. If you want help determining where to go from here, contact Nora
for a Marketing Communications Audit.

Nora Camps
DUO Strategy and Design Inc.
[email protected]