May 17th, 2011 by JM Guest Blogger

What is a brand?

So we’ve talked a lot over the last little while about branding and how to do it… But what is it? What does it mean to your business? Is it really something you can do? Is it something you should do?

Well let’s start with a basic definition of a brand. Not the “corporate” definition – one that actually applies to real businesses like yours :

A brand is the identity of your business – it is the way that others see you in the world.

It is your mission, your values, your products and services, your employees, your website, your logo – everything that touches a customer about or in relation to your business.

So branding, therefore, is :

Making an impact on the way others see you in the world.

It is causing people to perceive your business the way you would like to be perceived.

Let’s take an example… Nike. Everybody knows Nike and their infamous “swoosh,” with or without their well known “Just do it” tagline.

But what does that swoosh do? Is it the swoosh itself that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Does that little mark, on its own, make you buy – and pay a premium for – their products? No!

It is the identity that the swoosh represents that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling. The swoosh is just a mental trigger to help you remember their brand – it isn’t their brand by itself.

What does that mean for your business?

Well it means you can stop focusing so much on developing the next swoosh, the next “just do it,” “I’m lovin’ it,” or “Have it your way” – and start developing your real brand.

Figure out who your business really is – why you’re in business, what your products and services really do for people – and make that your brand. Then start branding. Use that “brand” to guide your marketing and advertising decisions, help you with customer service problems, develop new products, and more.

And if you like, put your logo out there – but always remember, your logo is only a trigger. It should remind people of who you are, but it doesn’t define you.

Now, I want you to do something. Post your brand in the comments.

Who are you? What problem does your product solve? How do you want to leave people feeling after interacting with or buying from you?

You can leave the comment anonymously if you like, no one is here to judge. This isn’t a contest. It is only an exercise to get you to put your brand into words.

I help moms spend more time with their families and build successful businesses by teaching them to make effective marketing decisions and brand their companies. That is my brand. I live it, eat it, breathe it, sleep with it, bathe in it, and I’d probably get funky with it if I could. I love it.

Tell me, readers, guests, clients, and random visitors – what is your brand?

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