In Old Norse, the word “brandr” means “to burn.” Historically, a brand was a burning piece of wood that later went on to be described as a torch. Think Thor in a dark room.
It wasn't until the 1500s that the term became widely associated with the “branded” mark ranchers use to identify their cattle. Then, in the late 1800s, packaged goods companies (notably the one that likes red and Santa) started using a brand to differentiate from the generic competition.
As companies and their practices evolved over the years, their brands have as well. They have started engaging and connecting with people regularly and on a deeper level. The days of marketing and selling on simply an "unbeatable" price or "highest" quality are no longer enough to persuade and seduce potential customers.
To most Muggles, a brand is simply a name and logo. You’ve no doubt overheard someone say “I like their brand. They have a cool logo!” This association comes from that simple act of ranchers marking their cattle with a name or graphic that became a recognisable "brand". This thinking wasn't wrong! But the world around us has changed and it's now outdated (remember, Mark Wahlberg was rapper once). These are indeed some of the elements used to identify the brand but are not a sum of all its parts.
Think of a company like a person – a person you know (not your mum), someone you have spent some quality time with (still not your mum). Think back to that very first encounter. Maybe it was a blind date that your pal Cilla set up. They told you their name, you could see what they looked like and heard all about what they did for a living. This provided just a very shallow and generalised understanding of them. However, as that relationship developed, you went beyond the façade. The more you engaged with them, the more you started to build a picture of their being.
A brand is the way a company is perceived by those who experience it. It doesn’t stop at the purchase or the use of their product. Realistically, a strong brand will transcend a company’s general offering.
The familiar thoughts or feelings that formulate in the hearts and minds of a selected audience help define the brand, creating a strong connection of understanding and appreciation. Brands are intangible; they are shaped by people’s collective perceptions.
The public can’t fully appreciate the intentions of a brand until they go beyond the surface and start delving into the true depths of the company’s meaning and purpose. How the business conducts itself. The actions they take. What associations they choose to make and why. What they ultimately value as important – and what they don’t. Why they give all their staff a day off on May 4th.
By definition – “A brand is a formed perception influenced by thoughts and feelings from an audience’s collective experiences with an organisation, product or service.”
The truth is – you don’t own your brand. Your audience does!
Having a brand will give meaning and purpose to your company. It will shape and define your company's customer base, creating an unwavering relationship built on trust, credibility and loyalty. Ultimately, it establishes a positive sentiment with your audience.
The arse line is – a brand results in an increase in sales, not just for the specific product or service being sold, but for other offerings from the same company too. When customers have a good experience with one product, they are more likely to try more. Strong branding provides you with a competitive edge in the market.
If you want your company to be more than “quality product at a great price”, get with the times, turn the dial to 11, engage your passion and make the move towards better!