What is a Brand?

A brand is not a logo, a tagline or an advertising campaign. It’s a multi-dimensional platform that can be your greatest differentiator and competitive edge if built correctly. It represents both a rational and emotional connection to your various stakeholders and the consumers who ultimately decide to purchase your product and engage with your brand. It’s therefore, absolutely critical for you to understand and deploy the power of a fully developed brand.

Clearly define what business you’re in 

That’s the first question to ask yourselves, and one you should answer with careful thought. Because the first answer you give may not be the right one. “What business are you in?” The answer should lead you to understand the broader value you’re going to offer the world. It is the fundamental question that should inform others why you exist, while helping mold your vision and purpose. When asked this simple question, I’ve discovered that the founders of startups and/or senior executives of established corporations realize that when they answer it correctly and imaginatively they unlock new value and potential for their brands.

Build a rock-solid brand platform

Think of your brand platform as the foundation that directs and informs every aspect of your business. A platform that’s crystal clear and unshakable should include a clear vision statement that outlines, in simple terms, an aspirational view of the impact you’re planning to make in the world. It should include a purpose statement that informs how you plan to deliver on the vision. What most businesses skip is a set of operating principles or values that guide behaviors and decisions. With these foundational elements in place, you should clearly outline the personality traits of the brand to inform the development of your products, identity, and communications. When you take each of these elements and link them back to the purpose statement you’ll keep everything about your brand cohesive and connected.

Design an identity that you’d be proud to wear on a t-shirt

Working from the brand platform, informed and inspired by your larger purpose, you’re now equipped to name your brand deliberately. Working from the brand principles and personality traits, you have the inspiration points and guardrails to direct the development of a brand identity that should break through and stand out in your category. Your identity, and the design language that surrounds your brand, is a worthwhile investment given the importance of design in most categories of business today. It’s important to understand the added value and quality cues that good design can add to your competitive edge.

Tell a compelling story

Developing and sharing a compelling brand narrative is like crafting and telling a really good story. You want other people to hear it, and you want them to share it. To begin, prepare an outline that’s informed by your purpose and your business strategy. The characters in your story and how you tell it should be guided by your principles and personality traits. When it comes to crafting the stories, find a consistent voice for your brand and test it to make sure it resonates. When it comes to sharing your story, think like an editor of a magazine, and program the chapters or the various aspects of the story with an editorial calendar to ensure you manage the delivery and the timing in a coordinated manner. If content is king, a great story is the heart and soul. So make sure you’ve got something interesting, relevant and memorable to say.