When it comes to your business — your brand comes first. But a brand, let’s be clear, is about more than just a logo. A brand is a way of doing, a way of connecting your story to your audience. Whether you are a small local shop or a fortune 100 business your brand matters.
I won’t go too deep into the history of branding nor will I post pictures of cattle and cowboys. I will quote an old colleague, Steve Poppe, whose signature phrase is “Is-Does.” Steve always looked at branding from the point of view “to understand what a brand is you have to understand what a brand does.” The “is-does.” Steve breaks down the idea of branding into this simple idiom. As a brand consultant he spends his waking hours breaking down and developing brand strategy. What I love about the simplicity of the “Is-Does” is that it is a simple two-step equation. Define what your business IS in a word or two, then define what your business DOES. Once you do this, you are on your way to developing winning brand strategies that will ultimately grow your business.
Now if you dive deeper into Steve’s approach there is an aspect that is counter in many ways to mine. Steve focuses on the selling of a product as opposed to the selling of a story. These are two thoughts with one goal.
Let’s take the iPhone — what is Apple selling? It is a phone, yes, but it is a lifestyle more than that. The story behind the iPhone brand is one that showcases the best you. The person who is always in touch, the person who creates, who dances, who lives on the cutting edge, all the while holding a small device, that sometimes makes phone calls, in the palm of your hand. What Apple continues to do successfully is tell a consistent story across all of its brands. That story is about the consumer which in effect is about the brand. It’s like a pinwheel effect that once it starts spinning it works beautifully.
So let’s get back to ownership. In recent months we have seen many major brands reinvent themselves (goodbye, Aunt Jemima and hello, Princess and the Frog.) A sign of the times that was past due. As these brands look to overhaul their message and mission they will need to be consistent in their story. For Quaker Oats, that means looking across their entire branding portfolio. For Disney, the same, and they have a lot of ground to cover. In every aspect they will need to take ownership.
Taking ownership of your brand is important, and not just for the business owner or the marketer you may hire on occasion to help boost sales. Ownership needs to permeate through every aspect of your company down to every person who represents you. At every level, they should equally know and believe in your brand, in your story. By taking ownership, and understanding your “Is-Does” (read Branding) you can more effectively communicate your goals, your offerings, and your uniqueness.
Take ownership of your image, your tagline, your social, and be consistent.