When you hear or see the word “brand,” what do you think of? A logo? A slogan or tag line? A character? That’s what many consumers would think of.
Now, put on your MarCom hat – what do you think of? Brand identity, brand promise, mission, vision, logo, colors, tone-of-voice, visuals, taglines, personas, marketing touchpoints…
Sure. But that’s not all. A brand is made up of the sum of ALL its parts, not just the ones that marketers focus on. Brand identity is delivered to consumers through an organization’s products and services, its sales team, its pricing, its product development, its customer service, even its fine print.
Have you ever run across an organization that just doesn’t seem to “get” its own brand? I bet you have. It’s the one whose customer service department doesn’t seem to know its organizational vision; the one whose social channel tone-of-voice is the polar opposite of its tone-of-voice on TV; the one whose website and collateral material look like they were developed on different planets; the one whose product offerings are lagging far behind its brand promise.
Managing all the elements that work together to build a brand is a cumbersome process because there are so many parts and pieces, and control over each of those aspects of the brand are often spread far and wide throughout an organization. Brand integrity is making sure all those elements align, and brand integrity is crucial – without it a brand loses its credibility and authenticity.
It should also be noted that, even when we are able to align all these magical elements, all we are doing is MANAGING the brand. We don’t OWN our brands. To a great extent, our audience does – what we are in their eyes is all that matters to them; we are merely able to influence their perception from time to time. Brand identity, then, lies in the middle of a continuous cycle between organizational promotion and customer perception.
It is our responsibility as MarCom professionals to step back and try to experience our brand as a consumer so we can identify where the gaps in our brand identity are before they become gaping holes.
Can you think of any brands with a seamless brand identity? Do you know of any brands that need to overhaul their efforts to better align their brand experience with their brand promise and identity?