PenryPosts are the musings of designer, writer, artist and branding expert, Brian Penry. His posts are offered in hopes of amusing, enlightening, sparking spirited debate and disrupting the status quo—as well as those intrepid souls who dare to read them. Note: Mr. Penry does not ‘blog’, that being a word most foul—and an activity in which he refuses to engage [please read Better Uses For The Word, “Blog”].
Photo: Sandy Connolly
What’s most important about your brand?
Your answer may reveal what more you really need to know.
Ask a few people what’s most important about their brand, and you’re likely to hear a wide range of answers. However, different though those answers may be, it’s surprising how one-dimensional they often are, revolving around two very basic brand aspects: cosmetics and economics.
Answers involving brand cosmetics typically include “People are drawn to our logo”… “Everyone loves singing along with our jingle”… “Our slogan’s witty and memorable”. Other, oft-heard answers may include, “Our color scheme’s bright and eye-catching” and, “Our packaging sets us apart”.
Additionally, there are two diametrically opposed, economic perceptions that people often cite in response to this question: “Our brand’s prices can’t be beat”; and in stark contrast, “People don’t mind paying more because of our brand’s outstanding quality and service.”
For all the talk about ‘brands’ and ‘branding’, many of us still cling to some very prosaic concepts of what all they involve. The reasons why many business owners and dedicated employees think their customers are loyal to their brand aren’t always entirely accurate, if at all. Is there really any one ‘correct’ answer to the question, “What’s most important about your brand?”—and if so, what is it?
Let’s start with a simple observation: people change banks all the time—however, no one ever left a bank simply because they didn’t like their logo. “Aha—so the answer must be service!” Yes, in great part, but not entirely. Many consultants relentlessly preach ‘customer service’, yet it’s hardly a revelation. Customer service is a high priority, of course, but not the only brand imperative. After all, how important can customer service be, if your brand isn’t attracting and inspiring new prospects to become customers, in the first place?
“Ohhh, I get it now,” you say. “it’s the brand experience!” Well, yes, that, too, but you’re still putting the cart in front of the horse. Like customer service, the experiences that your customers have are extremely important—again, once you’ve acquired them as customers. If the answer’s yet eluding you, just remember that time-honored political campaign phrase, “It’s the economy…” Give up? It’s your Brand Essence.
Capturing Your Brand Essence™ is what Penry Creative has been doing for over four decades. It’s that certain ‘something’ that captivates people before they’re your customer, or even necessarily a qualified prospect. Your brand essence is that often hard-to-define quality that captures imaginations and intrigues individuals, as well as entire market segments—“distinguishing your brand apart from all others” as we like to say. Don’t get me wrong: brand cosmetics are critically important, not to mention your brand story and messaging, which are even more so. Yet, capturing and celebrating your brand essence is paramount above all else. If that initial spark isn’t there and grabbing people, nothing else matters.