What every non-marketer should know about branding

Please note that this post was originally published on October 26, 2009. As a result, any external links or videos used may no longer be functional.

The words “brand” and “branding” are thrown around in casual conversation so frequently now that I’m still surprised to find not every business person knows what they mean. (In fairness though, I don’t understand supply-chain logistics.)

Some business managers refer to their products as brands, probably a carryover from the early P&G days. Some still think their logo, package or trademark is the brand.

Some mistakenly believe they have total control of their customer’s brand experience. And many think branding is just another word for marketing.

Here’s a list of the basics for the non-marketers in your organization:

  • Your brand resides inside your customers’ minds.
  • It got there through their experiences with your product, service, or organization.
  • In one way or another, every person in your organization contributes to shaping your customers’ experiences with your brand — even if they don’t face the customer.
  • Likewise, every dollar spent by your organization contributes to shaping your customers’ experiences with your brand.
  • Your customers’ brand experiences occur at every touchpoint, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential.
  • For these reasons, branding is not solely a marketing function. It’s an organizational function.
  • Maintaining consistency of brand experience is a challenge for most organizations. (No surprise.)
  • The ROI of branding is 1) trial and 2) loyalty.
  • Trial results from being intrigued by the promise of the brand experience. Loyalty results from having a series of consistent, singular and favorable brand experiences.
  • Branding generates results long-term, unlike promotion-based marketing which aims at the short-term.
  • In addition to consistency, the other hallmark of a brand is differentiation — giving the customer a reason to choose your brand rather than your competitor’s brand.
  • Consistent use of the brand’s properties (logo, colors, theme, packaging, advertising elements, etc.) is critical for building brand awareness and preference. They are the identifiers of the brand.
  • Your brand will not be strong unless the entire organization understands and embraces branding, starting at the top.

Okay, there’s more to it than that. But it’s a start. Do you have any basic points to add to the list?

This entry was posted in brand essence, loyalty, roi, standards, strategy.

16 Responses to What every non-marketer should know about branding

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  7. 1day1brand says:

    We’re screwed. For everyone of us who agrees with you, there are 1,000 marcom professionals who abuse the term. Sure, you can’t say “I’ve worked on a market so I do marketing,” but you can say “I’ve worked on a brand, so — obviously — I do branding.” The language is against us.

    Time to rebrand branding?

    – Axle Davids
    @1day1brand | http://www.distility.com

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  10. I am definitely using this post as a cheat sheet when trying to explain concepts of branding to the non-marketers in my organization. Thanks, Kirk.

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  13. Devin Meister says:

    Nothing to add, but two of your points that they really need to understand:

    1. Branding is not solely a marketing function. It’s an organizational function.

    2. Your brand will not be strong unless the entire organization understands and embraces branding, starting at the top.

    If you don’t deliver on your promise throughout the customer exeperience, it won’t matter if your logo exudes happiness, adventure, or anything it all. It won’t fly. And you’ll waste your money trying to get it off the ground.

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