What is a brand?
A story from the Boardroom
Branding is often talked about and sometimes misunderstood. A guy I have tremendous respect for (think branding expert for national and international sporting events) told me a story that resonated:
“I was in the boardroom”, he explained, “with the full executive team, board and chairman. We had spent an hour explaining what brand is, and how it impacts naming and logo, but also the entire development and storyline of the international sporting event”.
Now, I’m going to jump in here and explain that John (not making the name up) is quite the impressive character. Ex CEO of a multinational media and entertainment conglomerate, who when speaking commands the attention of every person in the room. No nonsense, highly strategic and with ideas that when spoken, open doors and revenue streams not previously considered (I warned you I was a fan).
“So, I’m in the board room” he explains, “and once the hour long presentation came to a conclusion, the chairman shifted in his chair, polished his glasses and said: ‘That all sounds wonderful John, but how are we going to fit all this into the logo?’”
A brand is not a logo
Now, this is not the time for smugness but rather time for reflection. As a brand and marketing strategist, it is my role to make it clear what it is that we do in our profession. I reckon a lot of people, executives and middle managers alike, would make the assumption that a brand is a logo.
The best definition of brand I have come across is comparing it to a promise, that when delivered on over time builds an emotional and cognitive footprint in the minds of the customer.
As Steve Jobs said: “This is a very complicated world, a very noisy world and we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be very clear about what we want people to know about us”.
What Jobs talks about here is purpose. Branding needs to be purposeful. The concept of purpose is quite fascinating. I think we can all recognise situations or jobs we have had where we felt we lacked purpose. Purpose is powerful stuff.
Branding tells people our purpose
Purpose is a reason for being. It explains who you are and what you stand for. It gives us a reason to get up in the morning. Biology tells us that if you are able to connect with someone on a common purpose, you have won. If we are “on the same page”, if we believe in the same things and feel we “get” the other person, product or company – we have broken through the clutter and are more likely to take action (such as change behaviour, make a purchase, become loyal). This is explained really well in this video about the golden circle. If you haven’t seen it, or want a refresh I recommend you have a look.
If you had your time again
Richard Leider, a best-selling author and coach explains how he has been interviewing people in their late 60s about what they would change if they had their time again. Three themes came up: 1) Being more reflective and less busy, 2) Having the courage to be more authentic and 3) Better understand their own purpose.
Leider concludes that purpose is common to all humanity, it is in our DNA. And so, if we are really clear about what our purpose is, we can make a greater impact on the world. And as a brand, as a company and as a person, that is what we are all trying to achieve. At the end of the day we want to matter and we want to make a difference. And we will support anyone we think can help us achieve this.
Long & Co’s purpose
With this in mind, I have been reflecting on what Long & Co’s purpose is. And put simply; we make marketing that works and people talk about. If we deconstruct the sentence “make marketing that works”, it means that we are very purposeful in how we approach a task.
We are outcomes focused. And to achieve great outcomes we focus on the product. If the customer has a great experience with the product (whether a company, service, an actual product or a campaign) it will most likely work. And if it works, people start talking and the dollars take care of itself.
Being purposeful can be quite challenging. It forces you to think deeply about why you are doing something. And so these days I am working on the purpose for a series of interviews I am planning for the Long & Co blog.
I met with a mentor (not sure if she would accept this characterisation), and she asked me what my purpose is for the interviews. And while I’m still refining it, it has to do with insights into these successful leaders as people. What drives them, what they have learnt that we can benefit from. At its simplest; what is their purpose? So that we can all become more clear about what our own purpose is.
With this, I would be grateful to see your subscription to our blog (see below). You can look forward to more insights on strategy and branding, and also people I think you will find incredibly interesting.
Thanks for reading,
About Long & Co
Long & Co is a boutique brand & marketing company based in Newcastle building local and big city relationships. We have one purpose and that is to help our clients go to the next level by unlocking their marketing potential.
We do this by partnering with our clients, starting with strategy and then skilfully implementing. Our expertise in strategy, creative, production, digital and media delivers work that drives actual business results.