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How to Build a Bullet-proof Brand: Part 1

BMW sedan

If you search online for the definition of “what is a brand” you will likely be very confused by your search results. Definitions such as “a type of product or service produced by a particular company under a particular name.” Nope. “It is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers.” Close, but no cigars. Business blogger Allan Dibb’s definition of brand was short and to the point, a brand is the personality of a business.” I like this explanation a lot.

What is a brand?

Your brand is NOT just your name, trademark, logo, package or product.

Your brand is a collection of people’s thoughts + feelings about their experience with your brand. The ultimate goal of branding is loyalty.

Thoughts and feelings are intangibles.

As compared to tangibles…

Which you can see hear feel 

smell & touch

Intangibles you just…feel

Your brand represents who you are in the mind of your audience. It’s the sum total of how people think and feel about you. Your name, logo, trademark, packaging or products are a reflection of various aspects of your brand. They all need to be in alignment and harmony with your core values, mission and business purpose.

If there is no connection, you will fail miserably to attract the loyalty of customers, partners and community advocates you need to succeed. Remember that your brand’s function is to link your brand principles with what you do. When your brand acts out of character, then your brand’s very essence is corrupted and such damage takes time to repair.

BMW sedan

Porsche launches new luxury sports sedan

Mercedes adds performance to their luxury brand essence. Take that, Porsche and BMW.

Audi moves into the luxury  electric vehicle space. Watch out, Tesla. 

MINI Countryman

MINI moves into Jeep's traditional branding territory with fun and adventure as a key part of their brand essence. 

BMW is a perfect example of how you should manage the essence of your brand. Their brand stands for "pleasure." Their slogan "Sheer Driving Pleasure" integrates this with their other key values: power, performance, innovative, aesthetic and dynamic. This manufacturer does not stand for "technology" (which is Audi’s brand essence), or for "longevity" (Mercedes), "sportiness" (Porsche), or "fun" (MINI Countryman). For giggles and grins, google each of these brands to see their brand essence pop up the search results.

Here’s how BMW describes their brand:

“What you make people feel is just as important as what you make.” 

Well said, BMW. An excellent example of a great branding philosophy demonstrated in practical, real-world application. It's spring, the weather is amazing, and BMW makes me want to own a luxury sports car so I can go out for a leisurely drive in the Cascades with my beloved. 'Nuf said.

Next week: Part 2 digs deeper into what is a brand. I will talk about how good branding keeps your brand from being viewed as generic kitty litter. eewwww...

Until then, feel free to do your homework. Download the presentation now!

About the “Build a Bullet-proof Brand” series

This series of blog posts is based on a branding masterclass workshop from last fall. The topic is evergreen, based on the number of brand-related questions my partner Robynne Davis and I field every week in our marketing meetups. This series is designed to bring all of these important elements into alignment with your authentic brand:

  • Your true brand essence
  • The visual experience behind logos, fonts and color
  • The emotional connections with feeling that happen with images and videos
  • The power of words to convey your brand promise and your brand essence
  • How you appear in the many worlds of social media – consistently and meaningfully.
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