Your brand is not your logo.
Your brand is not your product or service.
Your brand is not what you say it is.
Your brand is what others say it is.
Your brand is the point at which your purpose, the why behind everything you do, meets perception, your audience’s understanding of who you are. It is external.
Richard Branson and Virgin are rebellious changemakers.
Timberland and Patagonia are adventurous explorers.
Mercedes and Ritz-Carlton are stable, old-guard rulers.
Campbell’s is a caregiver. They provide soup to those who are under the weather, helping them get better.
Nike is the hero, the victor.
These brands didn’t always represent these archetypes, they did not always make people feel. They became that way over a period of time by consistently delivering on their point of difference. That “consistent difference” resulted in a distinct feeling amongst their audience. That feeling is your brand. When enough people feel one way about you, they become your community.
No one executes that better than Starbucks. But they didn’t start out that way. Originally, they were just a unique place to get coffee, a commodity served with a bit of theater. Starbucks became a brand by making people feel what makes them different, consistently, over a substantial period of time. Eventually, we all knew what to expect from them, and they delivered. Now, we can get an Iced Green Tea anywhere in the world and feel that combination of comfort, aspiration, and caffeine that so many of us crave. And we are willing to pay a premium for the trust that comes with that consistency. There is no disputing, a powerful brand creates tangible value.
To determine your brand, as an individual or organization, try answering the following questions:
Who are you?
We are Starbucks, a multinational coffeehouse experience.
What do you do?
We’re not just passionate purveyors of coffee, but everything else that goes with a full and rewarding coffeehouse experience. We also offer a selection of premium teas, fine pastries, and other delectable treats to please the taste buds.
Why does it matter?
Every day, we go to work hoping to do two things: share great coffee with our friends and help make the world a little better. A place for conversation and a sense of community. We inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
Coffee is a commodity, you can get it anywhere. We pay the premium for brands because of the why, the way they make us feel. How do you make people feel?
Now for the Litmus Test
Ask a few people you trust whether they agree with your answers.
Once you can definitively and concisely answer those three questions and others perceive you or your organization to be what you say you are, you have officially brought your brand to life.