If Not a Promise, Then What is a Brand?

Branding has been on my mind this morning – not my normal Saturday morning fare, but when the dog and cat conspired to get me out of bed at 6am, it was either that or exercise. Branding won.

I’ve been thinking about the adage that “a brand is a promise,” which I’ve never really bought into. Don’t get me wrong – I completely endorse the concept of a brand promise, the essence of what a company offers its customers. But that fact that a brand is a promise just doesn’t work for me.

Branding is not a one way street. A brand does not become great without permission. Customers, employees, prospects, they all need to accept the brand promise offered by the company. If it’s not believable, if the company isn’t credible, all branding efforts will fall flat.

Brand is an IntersectionSo what is a brand?

The way I see it, a brand is an intersection. It’s the place where the promise meets permission. Where that place is depends as much on the desires of the company (their brand vision) as it does on the acceptance of the customer.

A dialog with customers is required to bring the essence of the brand to life.

Listening to customers, understanding and anticipating their needs and desires, is vital to gaining permission to be create the brand want.

Once you understand your customers, you know which brand attributes are most relevant. You can create the right brand messages and design marketing materials that effectively expresses your brand personality.

Then you’re ready to meet your customer at the right intersection, instead of hanging out on a lonely corner in the wrong neighborhood.

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