A Little About Branding

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Last week, I spent some time talking with a few friends about branding identity. When I speak of branding I mean the overall organizational image, The brand communicates the organization’s mission, and promise of performance, to the public, even if in subtle ways, such as the way customer service is delivered or the color of product packaging. Ultimately a company’s brand affects how the public will engage with the organization.

For example, if I mention Disney, Google, Baptist, Catholic, Kraft, or Betty Crocker, each of these brands may bring to mind experiences or feelings one may associate with these brands.; whether good, bad or indifferent.

As a part of the process of defining the brand for our organization, my friends and I engaged in an exercise to find one word to use to describe our organization. Discovering the one word that communicates clearly and easily to all of our stakeholders (staff, investors, customers, etc.) can mean the difference between instant brand recognition and brand obscurity. Eventually we will seek to define every aspect of our brand identity.

Here are some ideas on how to define your brand identity.
  
Look within. What passions and desires motivate you?. That passion will help to clarify your perspectives and the reasons that the brand is important to you.  Ask questions like “what positive feelings do I experience when I think about our organization?” “What are the take-aways I foresee for our clients/customers?”

The answers to these questions and others like them will help us realize the true starting point for brand definition. If you don’t have any passions for your business, church, or organization in it’s current form, then describe what the organization would look like in order to ignite your passion.
  
Look without. Once you’ve done your introspective search to define your passion  then envision how this will be perceived in the minds of stakeholders. You can use tools like surveys, focus groups, or  market demographics to help gather data on target market preferences.  Also, keep in mind that your individual perspective and preference may not be identical to those you are trying to reach.
  
Look across.  Are your values and goals for the organization’s brand shared by major stakeholders? Are you communicating the intended meaning well?
  
Look around. What colors, textures, words, images, shapes, are being used to communicate your message to your intended audiences.  Here’s an example: The car company, Ferrari typically presents their cars in red or black, not softer colors such taupe because those softer colors don’t communicate the intended message of speed, excitement, and power.
  
Look to Communicate. Now that you’ve defined your passion, how the brand is perceived by the intended audiences, and determined specific elements that communicate your brand well, it’s time to communicate. In order to communicate well, you need to know the best mediums to use in order to share this brand message with your intended audience.  This may be print media, broadcast media, digital media, email marketing, social media networks, blogs, etc.

Regardless of the medium, The brand message must be consistent. Having the same look and feel across platforms will help build brand awareness and hopefully, lead to brand loyalty.
  
Keep looking. Always provide a means for  your audience to provide feedback allowing communication with the brand to become a dialog instead of a broadcast. Consumers today want to engage with the brands they follow and brands should listen and make the necessary adjustments. 

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