If you type “What is a brand?” into Google, you will receive about 687,000,000 results in 0.8 seconds. Early farmers were clear about what branding meant; after all, it was how they differentiated their cows from their neighbor’s. But today, we’re a little less certain of the meaning of the word.
Below is a guide to help distinguish the different aspects of a brand, including your logo, brand identity, brand image, and brand ambassador.
What is a logo?
A logo is a graphic that represents your organization. If well-known, like the McDonald’s M, it does not even need to include the name of the corporation. However, in most cases, logos include the company name spelled out clearly.
Sometimes, a logo is purely typographic and known as a logotype or wordmark. Oftentimes, the script used is an original typeface, such as with Disney or Coca-Cola, and recognizable on its own. Sometimes, the word “logomark” is used to describe the word portion of a graphic logo.
Some logos have very distinguished graphic and typographical portions, while other times the words and image blend to form a logo.
Companies, particularly start-ups, should ensure that their logo is professionally-made to represent the organization’s values and image.
What is a brand image?
Brand image, or brand identity, is everything that makes up the company in the mind of the consumer. This could include the name, logo, slogan, commercial, and unfortunately, that tired customer representative who was just not very nice on the phone.
Brand image is not necessarily what you mean to convey, but it is what is perceived by the public. For instance, Whole Foods has a brand image of being overly expensive. Certainly that is not their goal, and the company continues to work to offset that brand image, but late night comedians and Internet memes are not making it easy.
When working to create a brand identity, companies should have a complete sense of its target audience, its competitors, and the surrounding business environment. Organizations must work to ensure that the attributes and labels which which it wishes to be associated are showcased in a positive manner and that those attributes are being communicated to the public effectively.
For instance, an organization may wish to be recognized as environmentally friendly, thereby creating a feeling that customers are helping the environment if associated with the brand. A brand’s identity and attributes will draw in consumers who also believe in the same values.
What is a brand ambassador?
Google’s definition for brand ambassador is “a person, especially a celebrity, who is paid to endorse or promote a particular company’s products or services;” however it is so much more than this.
An individual receives excellent customer service after breaking an expensive electronic product. The company replaces the item, even though no warranty was purchased. The individual then takes to Twitter to commend the company for being so helpful. A conversation ensues with another individual who experienced a similar situation. These two social media users have now unwittingly become brand ambassadors.
An employee steps into the elevator with an unfamiliar person, who he soon discovers is an applicant arriving for his first interview. The employee wishes him luck and tells him that he’ll love working there. Employees make ideal brand ambassadors when treated with respect and appreciation.
A brand ambassador or brand advocate is not always a paid celebrity spokesperson. In fact, a true brand ambassador is simply someone who has tried your product or service and likes it enough to endorse it to their social circles.
What is a brand?
So if a logo is a graphic, a brand identity is what you represent to the public, and a brand ambassador is someone willing to speak out about your product… what then, is a brand?
A brand includes your logo, slogan, and company name. It includes your brand identity within the public buying sector. It also includes what your brand ambassadors are saying about your organization. A brand is what you promise to deliver and what you actually provide. It is your content and storytelling, your website and blog, your social media posts and your weekly flyer. Your brand encompasses everything you physically put out for public consumption and how the public perceives that information. It extends from the CEO down to the cashier on Aisle 6 and the customer service representative dealing with the angry customer trying to return a malfunctioning product.
A brand is the very idea of your organization. You can promote what you want it to be, but that can alter by what others see and speak about your company. You never have complete control over your brand, because it is not completely created internally.
Creating a brand is different than developing a company, although the two are intertwined and often both words are used interchangeably. Work on designing the aspects of the brand that you can control and maintain a constant feel on the pulse of your customer’s opinions to ensure that your brand represents what you expect and intend.