Defining Your Brand: Starting the Conversation

It’s easy for many of us to point to what we feel are great brands – Apple, Disney, Chick-fil-A, etc.

We innately conjure up certain images and messaging when we hear these companies and have expectations of conducting business with them. However, for the 99% of companies who don’t have the millions of dollars to spread their brand, how can clearly defining a brand most benefit them?

Our team is currently in the process of doing this exact thing for a couple of new clients. We usually get lots of nodding heads and agreement on how important a brand is, but it’s still often hard for people to define exactly what one is and, more importantly, how it affects their day to day.

What’s the benefit?

Well, people do business with brands they can relate to. People surround themselves with products and items they feel help define them, and this carries on over into companies they pay money to for their services or products. You have to relate to your prospective customer and engage with them. This creates brand loyalty and an ongoing relationship.

Okay, so now you see the value, but how do you start to understand what your brand is?

We usually get this started by asking a few simple questions to get the gears turning. They sound trite, but these euphemisms help people wrap their heads around it:

(1) If your brand was a car, what kind of car would your company be?

(2) If your brand was an actor, which person would play your company in a movie?


In reality, cars and actors are nothing more than brands in our minds. We associate certain qualities with them that we may want our company to have – approachable (George Clooney), honest (Robert Redford), experienced (Clint Eastwood), safe (Volvo), sexy (Ferrari), or reliable (Honda). The list is endless.

So now ask the question about your brand –  “If you were able to create a person to best represent your brand, what would they be like?” Would this person be a man or woman? How old would they be? How would they dress for a day at work? Would they wear a tie? Would they be wearing khakis or jeans? How would they speak? Would they joke or always be serious? How would they fix their hair? What kind of watch would they wear?

And, naturally, this leads to the person’s lifestyle – What kind of music would they listen to? What kind of car would they drive? Would they be married? Kids? What hobbies would they have? Where would be their favorite restaurant to eat?

All of these questions, while seemingly simple and purely conversational at first, begin to conjure up a living representation of your brand and establish expectations one should have when interacting with your company. And that is what branding is all about – a perceived expectation of your service or product. A simple promise: You come do business with us and this is what you’ll get. And this is what your customer’s share about you.

This is an invaluable process which often makes the leaders of a business realize they don’t quite have the same vision of their company. And, if they’re leading the workforce, how can they expect their employees to have a united front in representing their brand? And if you haven’t realized it, your employees are your living and breathing brand. If they’re all on different pages how can you expect your company to move forward in the most efficient and impactful way.

If you want more reading on thoughts of a brand, check this article out.  Same idea, but Alessandra Ghini of Starbucks and Apple fames equates brands to being a story, NOT a list a features. Think about it, have you ever heard an Apple ad be centered around their processor rates or how much memory they hold?

Now look at your marketing materials. Look at your online presence. What are you telling your prospective customers about your company?

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