A conversation I’ve been having with a number of people lately has been about what we mean by “branding”. For many people, branding relates simply to the design of the logo or mark used by an organization. That would be its historical function, but the term and its use have evolved. Branding is now a phrase (for better or for worse) that defines the overall projection of the organization in the world.
Our definition at Studio Two is this – We help organizations define their values, vision and identity and express them across media. So from our point of view branding may include web, facebook, brochures, advertising, clothing, architecture, product design, and signficantly – word of mouth. What do you say about your brand? What words and phrases do you use in communicating your story? Do you “wear” your brand on your sleeve – i.e., do you embody the message?
We had a visit from a client recently who had (like many people) a difficult time in 2009. Their business suffered mightily, and in the process of struggling for survival, the owner and employees of the company did a fair amount of damage to their reputation through negative communication, mostly by word of mouth. Their competitors took the opportunity to add insult to injury, and the damage was done. Now that 2010 has started and the recovery seems to be taking hold, our client is trying to repair the damage and build up again. So they came to us to discuss ways that we can do that together, through advertising, PR, their website and so on.
In our discussion, we revisited the core messages of their brand that we had worked to develop a couple of years ago. Those values still stand as valid. But their vision has changed – the world they work in needs a “fresh start” and a new, forward-looking tone. As we talked, I began to realize that this was an essential moment in their “re-branding” for 2010 – that the owner and employees of this organization need to see that the attitude, message and posture they individually project is the foundation of their new vision. They need to embody the optimism they are feeling. They need to use language every day that promotes that opportunity is here, now. They need to create a compelling vision in their own behavior towards the business – by showing up early, by being proactive, by pursuing their intentions with zeal and fire.
We can give them tools to support this new vision. But these tools are just supporting players in the rebuilding of their brand in the weeks and months ahead.
Building a brand – you need to be able to wear it on your sleeve, to be able to embody it, be passionate about it, and speak clearly about your intentions.