Exploring the Brand Gap
The term “branding” has become commonplace in the nomenclature of our culture. For most, it’s a reference to things like design, logos, and overall style. Unfortunately, this kind of limited definition (or misunderstanding) of brand will ultimately work against the building of companies. Your brand is not your logo, identity, or product. It’s not just about design or putting together a “cool” website.
Your brand, as Marty Neumeier rightly puts it, is the gut feeling people have about your product, organization, or service. It’s less about what you say your brand is, but more about what they say it is. In other words, your brand is shaped by the experiences others have with you and your work. Things like logos, visual identity, and products should be the natural extensions of your brand, but it should never be confused as the brand itself.
Developing clarity around one’s brand is essential to the success of any company or organization. Integrating a brand into every touch point of business can significantly increase impact and profitability. Yes, your brand is not just about marketing. It impacts your business design, HR efforts, and culture-making within the company. Externally, if a company has a clear sense of what their brand is in the eyes of its customers and intentionally works towards creating brand experiences that either heighten people’s understanding of the brand or facilitates a natural environment in which customers can explore the soul of the company, there will be greater potential for increasing “loyalty” over time.
Questions like “Who are you?”, “What do you uniquely do?”, and “Why does it ultimately matter?” are the kinds of questions that bring clarity to the brand. Creating a brand filter that captures how the answers to these questions play out both internally and externally for a company is the difference maker for long-term success. It will impact what kind of people you hire, what kind of customers you will have, and what kind of talent you can attract and retain. Most people gravitate towards brands that work well with their own personality. Being aware of the personality of an organization is crucial to understanding its market potential.
Here’s a great slide presentation based on the book called “The Brand Gap” by Marty Neumeier that can provide some overarching clarity about what branding is and why there’s a gap between business strategy and design. (Yes, go through all of the slides and buy the book.)
Our company (Ideation) was in part shaped by this book in our early years. We’ve committed ourselves to building bridges between business strategy/design and creative execution. We call this brand innovation. We work with clients everyday around some of the principles found in this book. I hope you find benefit in working through this book. Please feel free to leave your questions about this topic in the comment section below or email me at [email protected]. Love to help you think through this important topic.