Sunday, 3 April 2011

Brand Design: What are we talking about?

"Branding", "brand design" and "brand management" are all terms whose definitions are not immediately obvious to most people, including those of us whose professions deal with the concepts on a daily basis.

The problem seems to be that the relevant definitions depend somewhat on the context and intention of a particular discussion using the terms, and the variation in terminology that each participant chooses to employ (It shouldn't be the case, but human nature is human nature). So the best way to get a handle on what's what, is to first define the word "brand"...

Let's clear one thing up:  Your brand is not your logo.  Don't feel embarrassed if that's what you were thinking.  It makes sense to assume that a word that originally referred to a mark that is seared into the hides of livestock to identify ownership, would naturally refer to what is essentially the modern-day equivalent in the commercial environment.

But no.  Your logo, if you have one, is an important part of a branding strategy, but it's not what we're talking about here.

Your brand is not a physical thing. It's a mental concept. It is quite simply the perception that your customers - current and potential - have of the quality of service, or goods, that you provide.

So when we talk about "brand management", we're talking about actively controlling how your business is perceived. "Brand design" is the strategy implemented to achieve this management.

"Controlling how your business is perceived"?  Sounds a bit devious, eh? Well, it's not so much about brainwashing customers into thinking your service is great, but more about putting in place policies and methods that ensure that any experience a potential customer has with your business is a good experience.

This could mean little more than designing your website to be easy to read and navigate, or ensuring that your receptionist always has a cheery disposition and genuinely takes the time to be as helpful as possible, regardless of the potential for a sale.

That sort of experience is what the customer remembers about their interaction with your business, regardless of whether they buy into your service or product, and even to some extent, beyond what they think of that service or product.  You can often recover from failing to deliver what you originally promise, but you can't recover from the perception that you don't care about the customer.

That isn't all there is to brand management, but this explanation attempts to break the definition down to a singular concept:  Making sure your business acquires and maintains an appealing market profile!

In future posts, I'll explore some basic methods of introducing brand design techniques to even the most modest business ventures.

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