What is a brand?
We must look at the whole idea of branding with cynicism and scrutiny. What, after all, is a brand and why must one struggle to define and choreograph it? Why spend so much time, effort and money to build this mysterious thing that isn’t tangible that we call the ‘brand’?
Shouldn’t we just get on with the business that we do instead of wasting resources on creating the logo, website, letterheads, etc? Particularly for a social organisation where there are sparse resources available and the act of talking about ourselves or posturing seems unnecessary.
To reflect on this, we need to define what we mean by a brand before anything else. One may think of the brand as the coming together of the functional and the abstract – both of which play out under the entity that is the organisation.
Someone creates a product, someone de livers a service, someone runs programs, someone teaches, so on and so forth. But that is just one facet of what an organisation is. It is also the everyday experience of employees, the value and connection customers experience, the culture that drives the organisation and its choices and all the other efforts set in the present. It is at once also a reflection of its origins and aspirations from the past. It is also its vision and audacious expectation from the future.
In essence, it is a grand story that unfolds in time where people find meaning, livelihood, identity, experience, value and legacy. Since all these various strands lie scattered across various dimensions, it is important to try to define it and interpret it in a powerful and memorable way.
This enables one to make course corrections and manifest one’s highest possibility along the dimension that is most personally significant sales for the profit oriented, impact for the scale oriented, humane and creative work cultures for the people oriented, innovation for the creatively oriented, so on and so forth.
This essence of all these various aspects of the entity distilled into creative forms Logo, website, advertisements, packaging etc. becomes the first authentic and tangible reflection of the brand. These are representations of the brand and not the brand itself. This is why brands can change logos, baselines, products, owners etc. and often continue unhindered (for instance, Hutch and Vodafone).
Stay tuned for more articles on Branding & the process behind crafting one.