On Tuesday and Wednesday, November 12th and 13th, Nikki Holloway and I were invited by Professor Leah Weston to speak to her marketing classes at University of San Diego on brand and how it impacts a company’s growth and reputation. The students are majoring in marketing, finance, real estate and media. Their diverse studies gave us an opportunity to illustrate how the brand experience impacts business across a wide range of industries.
It’s Not the Logo: A Brand Lesson
The first question I asked the students was, “What is brand?” The first answer was, “It’s a company’s logo.” This perception is one that we discuss with clients frequently. For the most part, clients know that while their logo is important, it’s not the reason customers trust and continue to do business with them.
Brand is ultimately the experience a company gives to its customers.
We believe that the Experience is equal to the Brand Experience + the Client Experience + the Employee Experience. When these three elements are aligned and communicated throughout the company, positive results are bound to happen.
When helping companies define their brands, we developed our unique Brand Quest™ process, consisting of four distinct practices that determine the total brand strategy. These are:
- brand positioning;
- brand personality;
- visual brand identity; and
- the employee experience.
The cornerstone of a company’s brand is its position and values. A brand position is the promise made to a set of audiences and understood by those audiences. The brand promise is the single most important element that an organization will deliver to its customers. It must deliver on that promise every time. Every business decision needs to be weighed against the brand promise and aligned with its promise to the customer.
Core values are what differentiate a company and serve as the underlying themes for all a company’s communications. These are the key beliefs and behaviors that drive the organization and are embedded in the firm’s culture.
Creating Brand-Led Growth
Our Brand Quest™ is at the core of the work we perform for companies, whether for a start-up or a rebrand. We want to infuse deeper meaning into our clients’ services or products, build on customer relationships and bolster their culture. Nowadays it can’t be “business as usual.” Companies need to find ways to create lasting, loyal relationships.
A number of strategic elements are derived from the Brand Quest process. These include:
Recognition: A well-made brand relays a wealth of information about a company’s promise and consistency. Core customers and potential supporters come to recognize the bigger meaning behind the key symbols and messaging at a glance.
Attachment: A cohesive brand builds trust through understanding and absorption. People enjoy doing business with companies that clearly express what it means to be them.
Self-monitoring: The story that informs a company’s brand serves as an evaluation tool, allowing the company to instantly see how their performance lines up with their messaging and where it might be off course.
Bottom line: Recognition, attachment and the ability to adjust trajectory to stay in proper alignment means growth, deeper market penetration and greater profitability.
Building on Brand Reputation
Nikki followed my presentation and gave students an introduction to content marketing. By having a strategic content plan, companies can create lasting and loyal relationships. She illustrated that by communicating a company’s values through their brand voice and language tone, the company’s personality will be authentic. Merely writing content and pushing it out for “content’s sake” will not build the necessary loyalty nor brand recognition. Nikki summed it up perfectly:
Brand voice is the purposeful, consistent expression of a brand through words and prose styles that engage and motivate.
To say it another way, brand voice is the consistent and purposeful expression of your point-of-view and your values, all of which forms the personality of your brand, while the tone is how you say it — your style and attitude. Tone is to messaging what design and color are to visual branding.
Living our Values
Over our thirty-year history, educating students and coaching interns gives us an opportunity to practice two of our values: Passion for the work we do and Thoughtfulness in our actions.
If you are interested in having us talk with your students or want to apply for an internship, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.