November 14, 2016 | Jenni Kulzer
As I was talking about cherries this weekend, this question came up, “What the $#*&! is a brand, and why is it important?”
So, I asked my friends and family, “What do you think a brand is?” They all got it right. And they all got it wrong.
“The name of the company.”
A company’s brand is all of those things, and it is none of those things.
A brand is elusive. Let’s take the Chick-fil-A brand as a scientific case study for a moment. This is a rather elite fast-food chicken restaurant chain, which has worked very hard, and been very successful in creating, and marketing its brand. For example, they are widely known for their awesome service. People know that when employees are thanked, the employee will most likely respond with “My pleasure!” Chick-fil-A is kid-friendly providing place mats for babies, and a glass enclosed play place for older kids. They have a very recognizable red logo, and an ultra famous ad campaign in which spelling-challenged cows encourage people to “Eat Mor Chikin”.
However, several years back, they were caught in a “scandal” OR stood up for what their corporate values are, depending on what side of the fence you stand on. In 2012, the COO of Chick-fil-A came out against same sex marriages. This caused considerable distress and strife amongst some of their patrons. There are many people supporting same sex marriages which never have, and probably never will, eat in a Chick-fil-A again. On the other side of the coin, there are many people who turned out in droves at the chain restaurants after the comments were made, to illustrate their opposition to gay marriage.
I don’t want this to turn into a political talk, but I do want to illustrate a point. This happened four years ago. Four. Chick-fil-A has been around since 1967. And yet, when I think of Chick-fil-A, I think of that particular scandal. I don’t think of fried chicken, or funny cows. I think of what their COO said that day in 2012.
You see, a brand is not something you can see or feel or touch. You can’t change it on a whim. It isn’t something you can buy. It is something that is built. It is carefully created. And, it isn’t something that can be created for one business, and then used for another. Each business creates its own brand mold.
So, yes, your logo has something to do with it. As does your website, business cards, brochures, taglines, Facebook posts, etc. But in the end, a brand is what people take away from your company. If someone asks a client of yours, “What do you think about XYZ Company?” what would they say? Because THAT is the brand. The feeling they get from YOU. The way they feel about your company. What they tell others about your company.
So, you have to have your brand on the brain. How do you want to be perceived? What is that client who just left your meeting going to say about you when she leaves? Are you living, breathing, talking, BEING your brand? Have you defined what you want your brand to be?
My question is, “What the $#*&! is YOUR brand?”
PS. OH, and the pic is because I am even branding my TOES with cherries! Cherries are small, but they pack in a lot of flavor!