A networking organization asked me to speak on branding to four of their chapters a while back. Since I wrote about an aspect of how our brand is really built last time, maybe another installment on the idea of what a brand can tie into that thread.
The approach I’m taking is that a BRAND is all about Being Recognized and Name Dropped. That is to say that you develop a branded image when people can associate who you are (company or person) with what you do (that’s the “recognized” part) and then can talk about you directly by using your name (that’s the “name dropped” part).
In order to do that, your brand building components must appeal to and imprint yourself on one or more of your audience’s five senses. Your look (logo, color, shape, etc….), sound (tagline or jingle, signature noise), smell, feel (tactile or emotional), and/or taste (for foods) must represent your product and company and then be kept consistent throughout your marketing.
Of course, not all brands will be able to sensibly incorporate all five senses into their brand identity; but the more ways you can reach someone, the better. (Ever wonder why you can sometimes identify which casino you're in in Vegas just by the smell? They've intentionally created a scent they believe represents their brand image and pipe it in.)
The final component of a branding strategy is the sixth sense -the experience your customer has. You can put whatever image you want out there and appeal to any or all of the five senses in a positive way. If, however, the actual customer experience negates your branding efforts, the end result will be a negative brand image.
The customer experience is such a strong part of the brand imprint process that it alone may be able to overcome any weakness in the other brand identity components. Ever eat at a restaurant whose food is good, but not great; but they know you by name when you come in and always make you feel like a welcome guest? You keep going back because you just like the place, darn it! That's a great brand experience even if the basis of the brand (the food) doesn't necessarily live up to expectations.
Ideally, all your brand building components are lined up and in agreement with the way you want to be perceived by your target market.