Most people are not sure what the terms “brand” or “branding” mean. The American Marketing Association defines “brand” as a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” (American Marketing Association, Retrieved June 29, 2011).
So, the act of “branding” your product/service or company involves: 1) choosing a name that fits and is easy to remember, 2) designing a logo that catches the eye without being “loud” or “flashy,” and, 3) designing a brand symbol that catches the eye without being “loud” or “flashy” and that, over time, will become so synonymous with your brand that it will serve as stand-alone brand identification.
Now, that’s a tall order! If you’re a musician, it becomes an even more daunting task because all of these elements must coordinate with the sonic brand as well as the physical look of the artist/band. All of that combined with the foregoing will add up to the “brand.” And, you’ve got to get it right the first time. It’s exceedingly difficult to begin establishing a brand and then re-orient your audience’s mind when you figure out that your brand ideas were not fleshed out enough prior to launch. Re-branding is an extremely difficult task and should be avoided at all cost. However, we will admit that certain companies have done it quite successfully. Certainly, Verizon (which was the result of the merger between Bell Atlantic and GTE) comes to mind, as does UPS (new logo and the “What can Brown do for you?” theme). But, we don’t recommend that you do this unless it’s absolutely imperative.
So, where do you begin when you’re trying to develop a brand? First, look at all the positive features of the product/service/company. What do you want people to think when they see your name or logo? Let’s take a musical artist from our sister company, Chrome Orange Media. The artist is a country/rock band that goes by the name “Koenig’s Road,” named after lead singer/songwriter, Bob Koenig. When being interviewed by a local, Long Island-based, online newspaper, Patch.com, I was asked to sum up the Koenig’s Road brand “in a nutshell.” We were still in the brand development stage, so the question took me by surprise. I thought about it for a minute and asked myself the most important question of all: What could I say that would not only distinguish Koenig’s Road from the competition, but knock it right out of the box? EASY! My answer was, “It’s the best damn country north of Nashville!™” Everyone who hears it immediately understands that ChromeOrange would put Koenig’s Road up against any of the “big boys” in Nashville — and they would more than “hold their own.” They’d give them some run for their money!
And, that’s the essence of good branding. Don’t wait for your audience to form a perception of you/your brand — you have to spoon feed it to them… like Penicillin… on a spoon… straight, no sugar.
Stay tuned for more branding and marketing advice from me and my team!