Your company has a name, a logo, a preferred set of fonts and colors, so the brand is all set, right? Not exactly. Contrary to what a lot of us think, a brand isn’t just a logo, or a look, or even a voice, though all of those influence it.
Your Brand Isn’t Your Logo
While the logo of your company is certainly a brand influencer, it is not the end-all-be-all of your brand. No more than your Facebook profile photo could ever be the total summation of all that you are. Your logo is a symbol--hopefully a memorable one--that conveys a message about your brand to your customers.
It’s Not Your Fonts & Colors
Presenting a consistent image to your audience is important, and the colors and fonts you choose will evoke certain responses in that audience. But your fonts and colors are not your brand. They are just another piece of the puzzle. And while a lot of time and attention are paid to these two elements in most brand guidelines, they are not even the most important piece.
I learned this lesson the hard way during my very first marketing job. I was a copywriter and part of an internal marketing team. Our company was in the midst of a re-branding. We redesigned our packaging and our website, filled both with gorgeous colors, inviting fonts and clever copy (if I do say so myself). We changed our letterhead, made new sales decks, launched a social media campaign, and even put up posters all around the office touting our new brand values.
Less than a year later, the re-branding was scrapped and our internal marketing team had dwindled from twelve employees to two. Why? We had made the mistake of believing that we controlled the brand.
Your Brand Is What Your Customers Say It Is
So, what is your brand? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said it best:
Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
A company’s brand is the way a person feels about the company, the things that person says about the company, the content that person chooses to create about the company. Your brand isn’t yours to control at all; it’s your customers.
You can influence it--with the right look, feel, sound and style--but at the end of the day your brand is in the hands of your audience. The best branding strategy, therefore, isn’t a guide with Pantones, font sizes and pixel dimensions. It’s having a great product, treating customers to exceptional service (in person and online), and then creating opportunities through content and social for delighted customers to share their warm fuzzies with the world.
If you want a real-world example of a company that gets it right, look no further than the company America runs on. Dunkin Donuts not only makes a great cup of coffee and delicious pastry treats, it also successfully creates relationships with customers. Its social media is filled with fan-generated content and personal responses from the company. DD also celebrates its customers with “Fan of the Week” and loyalty appreciation gift packages, and supports local loyalty with local content.
Dunkin Donuts crafted a memorable look and engaging voice, created authentic content to share using those elements, and together with its loyal community of fans built a funny and friendly, cheerful and clever brand that’s just as sweet as a heart-shaped, cream-filled donut covered in sprinkles.