This is the first in a series of blog posts in which we will reveal everything we know about branding. You can find the whole lot of them here.
© 2016 The Dave and Eddy Show. All rights reserved.
If we're going to build a brand, we should know what a brand is, right? And who better to tell us than the American Marketing Association?
"A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distanced from those of other sellers."
Spot on—for ancient Rome, where lamp makers began inscribing marks to differentiate their products. But thousands of years later, with business schools and the Internet and everything, we understand a brand to be far more than a logo.
So let's ask a popular contemporary brand expert. Seth Godin, tell us, what's a brand?
"A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another."
Hmm—we vaguely sense what he means, but how do you go about defining or building "a set of expectations."
Hey, brand consultancy Brandeo, can you help us?
"A brand is the sum of all the associations, feelings, attitudes and perceptions that people have related to the tangible and intangible characteristics of a company, product or service."
"The sum of feelings and attitudes"? Again—how do you build one of those? Let's try Sergio Zyman, author of The End of Advertising as We Know It.
"A brand is essentially a container for a customer's complete experience with the product or company."
Gah!—we're going to build a container for experience? Okay, enough! I am going to define "brand" in a way that will allow us to build one from the ground up. A brand is—wait, are you writing this down? Okay . . .
A brand is a persona.
Period. A persona. Generally it's the persona of a product, service or company. But these days it can represent an artist or a celebrity. Some would even argue that each of us is a brand (and in a sad way they may be right, but we'll put off that discussion).
A persona, like a person (not coincidentally), has three qualities by which it can be recognized:
Think about it: The reason you don't need a name tag (a virtual logo) is that people recognize you by the way you look, talk and act. That is, by your persona. Same thing with brands—cover up the logo on the product or the ad and you often still recognize it. That's branding!
So, building a brand is as easy as creating a persona. By which I mean it's not easy at all.
A human persona is organic—it emerges naturally, for better or worse. No one has no personality (except maybe my podiatrist).
But a brand persona is different. You build it from scratch, and you have to build it so it can be inhabited by many different people over a long period of time. It is a kind of science, but also an art.
You could slap a random bunch of parts together, but that doesn't usually work out so well. Just ask Dr. Frankenstein.
To develop a useful, enduring persona, we will need the raw materials and a simple, clear process. We will also need a brand toolbox. A nice red one.
Are these brands? No, no, no—they are logos!
A poor brand-development strategy.