A positive brand perception is an important goal of many successful organizations. They understand that their brands are emotional links with customers. The deeper the link, the stronger the brand perception.
Brands are belief systems, not marketing tools. Many people think of the logo as the brand. However, the logo merely is the image that conjures up the brand perception.
The brand perception is in the person’s mind and evokes specifics such as quality, price, service. It is the business’ brand identity. To many people, the Apple brand means high quality, excellent packaging, and great service. Walmart’s brand conveys everyday low prices, and Costco’s brand brings to mind retail shopping at wholesale prices.
People pay extra for products or services when they identify with a firm’s brand. That’s why businesses spend significant time and resources developing and growing the right brand perception or brand identity. It’s counterintuitive to think anyone would pay to be a member of a firm to shop at that firm? Yet, membership fees are a major source of Costco’s continuing profitability.
Embed Brand Perception in Mission and Vision Statements
Organizations need to embed in their mission, vision, values, strategies, and goals, the brand perception or brand identity they want to convey. These perceptions shouldn’t be general, but must be specific attributes that appeal to customers. Businesses must apply consistently, the values and other brand elements they wish to communicate. Consistency is the key. Folks should know they can trust the brand promise; not just what the firm says, but what it does. If actions do not match words, people will not trust the business or ministry. Still, unless what’s said and done connects with how people feel about what’s said and done, organizations will fail to convey the right brand perception.
Businesses find various ways to relate to customers on a deep level. Starbucks connects with clients at the Third Place (home, work, Starbucks). It does not push coffee sales. Starbucks wants people to come to its stores (the Third Place) to hang out, chat, work on computers, read a book. Starbucks understands that while people are at the Third Place they will buy coffee, and other products. When my wife and I travel abroad, although I don’t drink coffee, usually we stop at a Starbucks daily. I go on the internet, have a cool drink, and we plan the rest of our day.
Starbucks has no difficulty if people just hang out in the Third Place. It knows people will spend. But most of all, it wants its customers to know it’s fine to come to the Third Place just to meet friends and chat.
Starbucks knows the atmosphere it creates for customers at its stores gives customers peace of mind and make them feel like part of a family. Starbucks has figured out that the Third Place makes life easier for many customers—it is convenient, customers return, and they bring friends and colleagues. Have you seen a Starbucks advertisement on TV? On a billboard? You haven’t, because they don’t need to do this.
What’s Your Brand
Each of us has a brand? People form perceptions based on how we behave, not what we say. If you are a young entrepreneur beginning, how do you establish your brand? It starts with your mission and vision? What are you passionate about? How do you want this passion to be received? These are two key questions to answer. If you are an artist, what’s your genre? Who is your audience? What message do you want to convey to represent your work? What brand identity do you want to present?
Your message must be part of whom you are and what you do, and you must communicate it clearly, concisely, consistently, and passionately. The key to establishing your brand is to realize that it’s not what you say that people will relate to, it’s what you do well, and do consistently.
You need to establish at least three key elements to communicate and grow your brand:
- A simple message that illustrates what you stand for and what you want your brand to be known for–your brand identity. You should consider specific traits you want prospective customers, existing customers, employees, and others to use to describe your activities or business.
- A clear promise of consistent quality, reliability, and so on as outlined in your message in one above–your brand covenant. You want folks to know they can trust you to deliver what you say, consistently.
- A simple, unique, memorable logo that helps convey your message–your brand image. You want people to see your logo and recall your brand promise.
Are you Jesus’ brand ambassador
If you follow Jesus, you are His brand ambassador. What is the brand perception others have of you? What would they say is your brand? Would they see you as His disciple? I believe each of us as followers of Jesus should understand that we are His brand ambassador. We need to show brand elements that reflect Him—love, joy, peace, long suffering, patience, kindness, and traits that show we love others as we love us.
If you are an individual or a firm, you have a brand, formally or informally. Therefore, it is important you work to convey the perception you would like others to have of you, your firm, and your products or services. Afterwards, you must behave sincerely and consistently in line with your brand promise to protect the brand perception.
© 2016 Michel A. Bell