Why Branding Is Misunderstood

Depending on who you talk to, branding can be a complete mystery. And when a brand is misunderstood, those who think they are marketers play a very dangerous role. They feel brands are business names or product labels, logos, packaging or signage with little or no tangible value.

According to Seth Godin: “Your logo is a symbol – a reminder of your brand. But your brand is a story, a set of emotions and expectations and a stand-in for how we think and feel about what you do. Nike spent $250 to buy a swoosh. Probably a little more than they needed to. But the Nike brand, the sum total of what we think and believe and feel about what this company makes–it’s now worth billions. The swoosh is just pixels.”

On so many occasions I have found, you can’t build a brand by setting out to build a brand. And in fact, thinking too much about brands can actually get in the way of the real business of your company.

So we go to work as marketers to make things happen and do stuff that our company can sell and most importantly customers value, and are willing to pay money for. Similarly, to build a brand we need to “do” and “say” things that customers find valuable.

Over the years, I have found it’s not what we say about our brands, but what our customers say about them. It’s our customers who create the value in brands.

We all judge ourselves by what we “say” and what we “do” in life. A company is no different! If those two very same things match up, then your brand cannot be misunderstood internally or externally. In fact, there is clear definition and the “why” your company exists becomes transparent to your employees and customers.

Branding is simply a reflection of customer value.  A brand has to be congruent with the experience of the company from floor to ceiling – every customer touch point has to be authentic and transparent.