A ‘brand’ is the name we initially choose to define the company we establish, the product we produce or the service we offer, and which we then use to create awareness and recall.
I guess, then, we can roughly define ‘branding’ as the perception of the particular audience we want to address, which will be developed over time.
Both are quite ‘sexy’ words.
But I must regretfully express that, although the idea of creating a brand or branding is appealing to us, unfortunately, we neither feel nor know the ‘requirements’ at any stage of the process, nor do we make the slightest effort to learn them.
Like many others, ‘branding’ is a term that gives us pleasure when we utter it, but is left vacuous when push comes to shove.
Sometimes the opposite happens, and there are projects that are very comprehensive on paper but are unable to express their insight in real life. I will briefly refer to these in the ‘marketing’ section of my article.
The important bit…
The ‘author’s note,’ as they say: if you ask me, it is an absurd task to create a brand or to have a ‘branding effort’— just fulfill your promise to the other party in a successful manner, and you become a brand even if you don’t want to.
The ‘you’ that is incorporated in your fulfilled promise, then, is what determines the DNA of the brand that emerges.
Have you opened a new door for the people who have come in contact with your brand, helped them develop a new way of thinking, or most importantly, have you changed something in their lives? This is what really matters.
Sometimes, you have a brand, but people ‘rue the day’ they met you every time they need it, and sometimes you have a brand and every time people mention your name, they feel bliss, and a smile appears in their souls.
You can decide what kind of a brand you prefer.
Now let’s have a closer look…
How not to be a brand?
Over the years, whenever the topic of branding is brought up, I have seen that the things that a brand should ‘naturally’ be doing are forcefully being molded and bundled up under prescriptive titles: customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer blah-blah-blah, plenty of titles, plenty of labels.
My dear friend, you are producing a product; shouldn’t the customer be satisfied while buying it or using it or afterwards? Should people buy the product from you, and then, is it hell with them?
My dear friend, you promise to provide a service, should people be put through the wringer to get this service?
Would it hurt you if these people satisfied their needs in peace, if they got their way with ease? Would that be a burden for you? (Well, of course it would, but if what ‘happens’ seems like a burden, then you can’t be a ‘brand’ in the first place.)
Oh, if you are (hopefully) thinking ‘not at all,’ then that’s when society, people, customers, however you define them, begin to become aware of your brand.
This is a subject with multiple subsections; let me try to gather my thoughts under a few headings…
I don’t know whether I am a brand or whether I have created a brand, but let me try to convey the things I pay attention to, the things I care about, and the things that I enjoy while doing my own business, and let’s see what you will feel about these issues.
Of course, when I say ‘I,’ that is the whole team, with all my colleagues.
1- My promise
I care about ‘my promise to my customer, and how fulfilling that promise can be.’
If this ‘promise’ is education, I pay attention to the fact that this particular education the customer receives provides the perfect content that will have an impact on his/her life (you cannot believe how far and deep I can expand this), his/her diploma (if he/she can receive it) is valid and respected all over the world, and his/her graduation and career is qualified to have an impact on and contribution to society. Don’t I ever fail, aren’t there any that don’t succeed, of course there are, but think about those that do succeed.
If a brand ‘instills self-confidence, and helps you create a better version of yourself,’ what more can you ask for?
2- My customer’s access to me and his/her moments with me
By focusing on what my customer experiences in order to reach my promise and what they experience once they achieve this promise, I endeavor to make this process as easy and as beautiful as possible.
From the first moment my customer thought of me, from my stance on the media outlet where they read about me, from the phone conversation they had, the forms they filled out, my website they examined, the journey they had to reach my door (let me exaggerate, I love to exaggerate), to the thoughts they had as they approached my building, the facial expression, the atmosphere, the decoration, the sound, the feeling, the punctuality, the attention they encountered when they set foot inside, and from the experience, the technology, the music, the snapshots, and the details they observed as they wandered inside to how I make them feel in my space…
And I am responsible for anything and everything they will experience until they walk out the door and start thinking about what they will do afterwards.
Please don’t focus on the difficulties. Your jaw would drop if I told you what opportunities and what toys you already have in your possession.
If a brand ‘makes you feel better,’ what more can you ask for?
3- My customer’s life after me
What I focus on the most are, the areas in my student’s life that I can contribute to once he/she is ready to leave, and the areas where I can create extra opportunities.
The departments that can be established to create business opportunities for him/her and for him/her to be evaluated within the sector; the benefits that can be accessed with these; the opportunities that can be developed for his/her family; the knowledge that he/she has a ‘second family’ that is just a phone call away anytime he/she is in a jam; the feeling of having a ‘second home’ (no lip service, for real).
If a brand ‘gets you to tell others about it,’ what more can you ask for?
4- My colleagues
I am trying to unite a cohort of friends with whom I can talk about my dreams, and who I have to convince in order to join the team rather than people who are trying to tell me who they are or who are scouting for a job.
Of course, there are those who don’t fit and those who don’t work out, and they get off the bus along the way. Sometimes the right people are given the wrong seats, and these can be amended on the road.
But when everyone is settled in his/her correct seats, then an absolutely wonderful journey begins.
In time, with those members that have worked their way up from within, and the perfect people that have been transferred, your team becomes an A team.
I take pride in the fact that each of my colleagues around the table is ‘smarter than me’ (I’m already aware of what I know, but think about my other friends, and think about the things I can achieve with their contributions).
Afterwards, I prefer to be a helicopter manager, a colleague, who does not interfere with their work, but only paves the way when they encounter difficulties in their assumed positions.
If a brand ‘provides its employees a sense of belonging, pride and improvement/progress,’ what more can you ask for?
A very important note about my teammate colleagues:
Your promise to your customers—their connection to you as well as their lives beyond that—should also apply to your colleagues in spades.
5- Marketing (a matter of great importance)
A friend of mine who knows the business really really really really well once said, “Sometimes I think about it but cannot decide whether it is your packaging or what’s inside it that is better.”
Translation: your content should be solid, but you should describe yourself and convey your messages to people just as well.
What did Napoleon say? ‘Marketing, marketing, marketing.’
But it should always be the marketing of a ‘solid’ promise.
Marketing that does not disappoint, and does not cheat.
Honest and ethical marketing.
But also, marketing that is deliberate, continuous and conscious.
Please do not forget the brands that do their job well but cannot express themselves.
What I feel like…
Look, what I have written here are the aspects of being a brand that originate from my own passion.
But don’t forget, I don’t think the things that I tried to convey here are things that can be done by reading books: yet on the other hand, that moment you read about things that you do with passion listed in ‘smartly written branding books,’ is a moment of joy, and that is a fact.
The magic formula
There are two important things: your promise and how you manage that promise.
Have a promise that you will gladly offer to people; fill, fill, fill, fill, fill, fill the inside, the front, the back, the right, the left, the bottom, and the top of that promise. Never compromise on any of your principles. And see if you become a ‘brand’ or not.
And you will work a looooooooooooooooooot.
Final word: ‘you’ are the difference.
Everyone has been talking about this buzzword, “I will be different; it will be different.”
Wouldn’t they ask: what is different about you that qualify what you do as different?