What is Branding Anyway? Hint: Not a Logo

At brand strategy workshops I often hand out cards with different logos on them and ask the group to say what each logo means to them. The replies are fascinating … and usually hilarious. At one workshop when someone picked the BMW logo, it provoked some unexpected reactions:

“Bad drivers”
“Essex boys”
“Someone in a suit …. who drops their ‘T’s”

I think we can assume nobody in that particular group drove a BMW. If they did, their answers would have been completely different. Probably along the lines of:

“A high performance brand”
“Well made luxury”
“A joy to drive”

This just reinforces the fact that a brand is simply:

“A set of impressions that live in people’s minds”

That is all a brand is. It doesn’t matter what you say yourselves, it’s all about the meaning and the feeling that people attach to you.

I know, I know. It makes brand positioning seem like an impossible task. Especially if you don’t have the big bucks of the mega-brands to influence people’s impressions.

But you don’t need mega-bucks, you just need three things - clarity, creativity and commitment:

CLARITY on who you are, why you’re here and who you serve.

CREATIVITY to express it in words, visuals and experiences that reflect you.

COMMITMENT to keep putting it into practise, consistently.

Successful brand positioning does not involve…

1.Designing a nicer looking logo

Brand positioning is about deciding who you are, why you’re here and who you serve. Then reinforcing those things in all you say and do. Forever. Your logo should reflect your branding, your words should reflect your branding, but so should your recruitment policies, your customer experience and your products.

2.Spending £££££ on a brand pyramid/playbook/positioning statement

You don’t need mega-bucks to build a brand. The main requirements are clarity, creativity and consistency. Clarity on who you are, creativity and commitment for baking into everything you do. The consistency of doing that time and time again is what builds a strong brand.

3.Useless fluffy nonsense

Brand positioning is the reason that people will pay three to five times as much for one product or service over another. It’s why you shop at Waitrose, rather than Tesco. It’s why you drive an Audi, not a Ford. It’s why you fly Virgin, not Easyjet. It’s also worth cold, hard cash when it comes to sell your business.

And for the record? Not everybody is going to love you or get the ‘right’ impression. And that’s okay. A brand is rarely right for everyone, but it’s about making the clear impression on the people who matter to you.

If you need a hand gaining clarity on your brand positioning, I’m here to help.

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