A brand is born, lives and dies. Naturally. The way it exists, the way it operates decides its longevity and impact. We are involved in building the brand in whatever we do every moment. Here am not attempting to correlate, but see the similarity between a brand and a human body, anatomically. Here are some aspects of the brand that you will see are present exactly the way the human biological system. It’s not a strong alibi but an approach to help enhance our understanding of all that goes into making the brand.
Reputation: We see historically reputation as one of the sole purpose of branding. There is nothing wrong in it, but may be the way we look at it can be modified. Reputation managers for any brand, or yourself for your personal brand is not entirely responsible for the success or failure of it. Reputation statement is like a cognitive shape that you will endow upon your endeavor, and quite likely it will be an ambitious one. After spending more than a decade in communication I have witnessed where great brands struggle. The state of ‘repute’ is an ongoing practice and not a goal, a conduct by the brand that engages all its stakeholders incessantly. The recall of the reputation contributes to the making of a truly inspiring brand. It is contextual, it changes person to person, situation to situation. No single prescription as you and your brand is unique. Reputation is the kind of flesh that gives shape to your brand, for everyone to remember for a longer time and choose or not choose to be with your pursuit. No matter how great your vision is, one single error done consciously or being ignorant, affects the entire brand journey. Famous brands are not all well planned, but there is a sincerity in the pattern that they lived. Every thread, contributed to make the best fabric that sets the tone, the mood, the experience, and that drives the audience to believe in it.
In an organizational context and more so if it is a complex composition, it makes more sense to drive reputation building not through traditional ways, but fast forming up a ‘reputation council’ that has equal representations from all stakeholders involved. A shoe designer will surely manufacture basis global anthropological considerations about human feet and its sizes. But the success for the brand comes only when it matches the trend, the current of audience expectations. May be the colour, or the positioning of the products, identifying the right user base and so on, will be aspects that will contribute positively. You will rarely see a sportsperson promoting a nice leather office shoe brand. Yes, you guessed right, it’s important to stay relevant, every moment in the process of reputation building.
Being Aware: Even before you attempt at building the brand either for an organization, a product or even for yourself, it helps if you are aware of the operational realities for the brand entity, both that exists and those that may come in the journey. Awareness is like the spine that connects the base with the vault, the lowest level principles of operation to the vision that you would have set. Everyone in an organization can talk about the business performance, but no one can have the entirety to present. Its seer collaboration and an eagerness to gather and work upon insights that you may come across in the branding process. Being aware also determines your standpoint, its strengths and weaknesses. Even when you sell a soap, it’s equally important to understand the demographics, the cultural context and things alike. Being aware is being empowered!
Connect to exist:
A brand is like a human. It will attempt to connect with its audience more to survive and succeed. The very nature of branding is connecting with all its stakeholders, something like a nervous system in human body. Needless to say what nerves do to help us live and stand strong no matter how big is the crowd. Quite evidently if you audit the famous brands of the world, the only thing that you notice is all of them are connected to their selected audiences. You will not see a jewelry add in a men’s magazine, or a tie on a women’s website, nor even any luxury car promotional in a children communication. Pick and choose the right audience and engage them till the point they not only believe and buy your product but become loyal advocates for others. When you connect with the audience, it also means a ‘dialogue’; you listen as much as you speak and keep the talk on as long as it benefits both. Make people feel that they are heard, and the rest happens faster. People who are in service will be getting enough announcements and mails from the senior leadership of their organization. But how many time’s in an average employee’s tenure he/ she would have realized that the suggestion/ feedback sent by him/ her is worked upon. Or even the employee is heard in the scheme of things. A great brand is a great conversation too. An annual engagement survey or a portal that takes employee feedback will make us reach only at the problem, not derive the ways to remove them by design of the organization. Can there be platforms that help the leadership and employees both feel involved meaningfully? Can there be any alternative not to do so?
Messaging: ‘I am here, because I have to…’ every brand has a message. It serves like the blood that flows through the veins and nerves and makes every organ equally functional and aligned to something beautiful called as ‘life’. In branding we often carve the best messages, at least those that sound like music to our ears. Rarely do we envisage the way the message connects with the remaining organs of the brand. A brand message is healthy and worthy to support the branding journey only when it has adequate measures of its constituents. Some of them that make the message are honesty, connectivity, source of power for the reputation we intend, sincerity of attempt and so on.
Channels and Communication Platforms: These serve like the organs that function for the well-being of the brand entity. They need to be healthy, understand what other parts and aspects in the communication scheme require to function well. We cannot choose or reject a channel basis a cultural bias, but innovate it to align with the objective of making impactful communication possible.
In branding do it the right way, and the right way is only one that you can establish positively. In a decade long stint my only learning is a brand stands for ‘TRUST’. Either it’s there or its not, there isn’t a middle way. Understanding each of the aspects and keenly observing the natural pattern your brand offers helps keep it healthy and long-lived. Every brand that way is a story, an experience that the audience remembers, only if it inspires.