Guest blogger: Ronnie McAllum

Well, let’s start with the question “what is a brand?” A brand is NOT a logo. A brand is a promise and a logo or wordmark is merely the instantly recognisable visual representation of that promise.

A brand is a complex mix of who or what you say you are (through your messaging, positioning and advertising and marketing activities), who or what your customers say you are (through their personal experience or perception) and the sum of every communication you have ever made through every channel and touch point and every experience of your organisation by customers, staff, suppliers and even potential customers and armchair critics or online trolls.

When you think of familiar brands, you not only recall their logo and general livery, but you feel an emotion that either attracts or repels you depending on your (or someone else’s) experience of that product or service. Big brands work hard to cement their message and hold their position in their (often over-crowded) markets. To do this they must be very clear on their core values and proposition, consistent in their communication of that proposition and reliably deliver on the promise(s) they make. In this way, they build trust with the consumer and trust builds loyalty and customer loyalty leads to growth because not only will those customers return time and again, but they will tell their friends etc. etc.

Think of The Warehouse and you will recall their logo, their colours and their promise of a bargain and an emotion of what the experience of shopping at The Warehouse feels like for you. Now this part will not be the same for everyone, largely depending on whether what they promise aligns with your needs.

If getting a bargain is a high priority for you and a pleasurable shopping experience is lower on your list of priorities, then you will be more likely to feel positively towards the brand. If however, budget is of little concern to you, but you enjoy personal attention and knowledgeable salespeople, then you will no doubt prefer to shop elsewhere. You are able to draw these conclusions and make the decision to shop there or not without ever setting foot in the store, as all of the messaging in their marketing material consistently delivers the same message over and over again. You are going to get a bargain and that is really all you are expecting.

You do not need to be a big corporate or retailer to successfully apply these principles to your business. A one-man band still needs to stand out from his peers and attract business based on more than geography or referrals.

Take a look at your own business and how it is presented. Do your communications consistently reflect your values? Do you look like you can deliver on your promise? Is your identity an honest reflection of what you deliver? What would your first impression be if you didn’t know what you did or what your point of difference was?

Ask your market who you are to them, ask your suppliers, your peers, your mentors and advisors and LISTEN carefully to assess how your own brand is currently positioned and if it is aligned with your core values and proposition. Is it still honest and relevant? You may find that it was 3 years ago, but things may have changed.

You are what you do today, not who you were yesterday.