Any business person worth their salt will tell you that branding is important. People have to be able to recognize your products or services on sight. Some brands are symbols or images, some are just words and others are a combination of words and images. As an example, when I see the name General Mills, I instantly think of Cherrios. Can’t help myself. I know that the Cherrios box has the color yellow…this is part of its brand. Now GM represents a variety of food products, but cereal is what comes to my mind first. GM has done a very good job over the years of solidifying its brand.
I believe that a brand is an assigned value. You may choose to use identifying symbols so that people will know, at a glance, who and what you represent. You may decide this has value because the symbols themselves impart value that is known in the marketplace. General Mills and Cherrios are good examples of this.
Personal Branding is a fun catchphrase in the marketplace right now. Seems it’s not enough to have a visually recognizable brand – the tangibles of branding – but also to have the intangibles…as the human element in your business, you bring your business into your persona in some way.
Let’s say you are a company’s representative [or you represent your own company or business] – you probably have business cards that carry your name along with the brand image/name of the company…this links you to the brand. Handing out business cards linking you with your product is one way of personally branding yourself and your business. So, tangible branding would include:
- business cards
- other promotional materials
- decals or signage for your car
- shirts, jackets and caps with logos on them
- bottle caps, pens, pencils, tote bags…there is a host of promotional items available to which you can put your identifying logo…your brand
When you carry and use these tangible items, you are branding yourself. You are identifying yourself with this company and its products and/or services.
What about intangible personal branding?
A business person can be intangibly branded – I believe – in some of these ways:
- always giving superior customer service – your customers always feel as though they are important because you return their calls promptly; answer their inquiries promptly and completely as possible; get their product or service issues handled satisfactorily
- have integrity – integrity is an intangible attribute that can reflect itself in tangible ways: being a good citizen lawfully; paying your taxes in full and on time; voting; playing fair; being a good neighbor, giving a helping hand where needed…both locally and globally; as well as integrity to and for your product or service: you provide “truth in advertising,” your claims are legal and truthful; you do what you say; you are your own best customer [if you won’t use your product or service, why should anyone you are trying to sell to?]
Personal branding is not just the logo on your business card…it’s also what you want to be known for.
To get back to the title of this post…when is a brand not just a brand? For me, when it’s one of my most favorite products. I’m an artist so I do a lot of drawing and sketching. Because I never get anything done perfectly the first time, I erase. Many times. And, I don’t use just any eraser…I use a Pink Pearl. I know many artists and as many artists as there are, there are that many different types of erasers favored by them. I love the Pink Pearl. It has to say “Pink Pearl” right on it or it isn’t a Pink Pearl. I’ve tried other types, other manufacturers, but this particular brand has me as a lifelong loyal customer. Whenever I’m shopping and I see them, I buy them – doesn’t matter whether at that moment I need a new one or not…I want to look at my drawing table and see at least three new ones always waiting in the wings to be used.
This may be an extreme case of brand loyalty, but understand that branding is important. When your customers find your products to their liking and they return again and again and they refer new customers to you…it becomes very important for you to know what it is about your brand – the tangibles and the intangibles – that they find of value.
A brand is not just a brand when it gives your customers value.