Branding is not a tagline. And a tagline is not branding.

When people hear the term “brand,” they often think it means a logo or tagline. However, a brand is more than a symbol or design. It’s nothing less than everything an organization says and does — the sum of its behavior, its services or products, its core values and its presentation.

As an exercise, what comes to mind when you think of the most valuable brand in the world, Apple? For most people, it is a take on innovation meets imagination, emphasizing simplicity and aesthetic technology. Everything Apple does re-affirms this. The logo is clean and simple. Its products are highly identifiable as Apple products because of its clean and sleek design. Its advertising and marketing campaigns are pristine, sleek, uncluttered, and unhurried.

“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.” Marty Neumeier, Branding Expert

What words, terms, and attributes come to mind when you think about your organization’s brand? Are they the attributes and characteristics you want for your brand? Or do no words come to mind? Finally, does your organization’s visual expression match the attributes?

If you are unsure how to answer these questions, or if you cannot answer these questions, there are some projects you can embark on to help you identify your organization’s characteristics and see if those align with the brand attributes. Here are a few examples:

In-Depth Interviews: Conducting interviews with leadership, customers, and some staff members using a moderator guide helps probe what comes to mind for people, how they talk about the organization, and if the current brand aligns with these descriptions. Talking to current and even past customers also helps understand how they view the organization and its brand.

Comparator Analysis: Look at what others in your industry are saying about themselves, what keywords they use, and their visual representation can help you understand how and where your organization fits in the landscape. This analysis should look at 3-5 other organizations and should encompass as much as possible of their messaging and outreach; including social media, website, collateral material, press releases and op-eds. Suppose these comparator firms have a strong brand. In that case, the same keywords and messages will be used across the board, and their visual representations (logo, collateral design, website design) will enforce those messages.

Conducting the baseline research activities described above helps you get a handle on what others think your brand is and if there is some work to be done.

If you have questions about your brand – or if you need to re-brand – reach out and we can talk!