Brand is about truth and honesty. When an organization (or an individual) embraces brand as an operating principle it opens itself to the opportunities that result from an honest relationship with its customers and marketplace at large.
There is no doubt that many organizations desire to have the business benefits that come from having a strong brand. It is not always clear that the organizations that hope to reap the benefits of a strong brand have the discipline to embrace and consistently execute the principles of brand.
Brand thinking requires a different perspective. For starters consider the following two facets of brand thinking.
Brands are relationships.
Brands are relationships, not products. A brand is defined by the distinctive qualities, if they exist, of the relationship between the company and its customers. Brand is a connection with a human. Brand is not transactional, it’s about affinity. Brand building requires intuition, adeptness and passion for relationships.
Brand is not some sterile business principle that positions the customer as another tenet of a business strategy. The customer is not another input placed in the modeling-mad business world that surrounds us. The customer relationship is THE POINT. Financial performance of an organization is measured by how well an organization delivers distinctive value in the customer relationship and how competent an organization is at executing a clever business model - in that order. Brand building is the commitment to use the vision, values, unique talents and passion of an organization to make a difference for customers.
Sustainable growth is greatly influenced by the amount of equity an organization has in its customer relationships. Brand is a business construct that places the customer relationship at the nucleus of the organization’s strategy and tactics. Brand strategy is an organization’s customer relationship strategy.
Brands are based upon perceptions.
The brand is not what the company claims, it is defined exclusively by the perceptions held by customers.
Any kind of incongruity in the two perspectives can be misleading to either or both parties. Strategies can misfire or fail to get enough traction when organizations are not in synch with the way they are perceived by their customers.
When customers and companies operate from different sets of perceptions it is only a matter of time when customers become dissatisfied and loyalty wanes.
When an organization holds itself accountable to the principles of brand, it becomes accountable to the truth of the relationship because it holds itself accountable to the defining element of the relationship — the perception.
The way an organization is perceived is the permission it is given to use that relationship in its business plans. Honesty is required to understand the perception. Honesty is required to manage within the constraints of the perceptions. We can’t have any brand we want. We can only have the brand we are and are willing to create and sustain. Therefore it requires honesty to be clear about the truth of the possibilities of the brand we can become.
Building a strong brand is not natural for every organization and requires a different perspective. It can be antithetical to a short-term business view and requires a long-term commitment to customer relationships. Every organization must be honest with itself and decide if it has the courage and commitment to build a strong brand.
Posted by Karl D. Speak