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I’ve spent the better part of my life as a creative professional but I don’t recall when brandbecame the buzzword it is today. Maybe it was the early 2000s...who knows? My old caveman brain is giving way. What I do know is that the concept is more diluted and misunderstood than ever before.
Just ask anyone to define brand and after some stumbling and bumbling, you'll typically get an incoherent list of related design elements or marketing speak. Even people in the creative field still struggle to put it into words, including myself. In an effort to make brand more tangible, I used to describe it as everything from the design of your business card to the sign on your truck to the way you answer your phones. My clients had no idea what I was talking about but they would nod their heads and approve my proposals.
The struggle is real but after 25-ish years, I sat at my desk this morning and it finally hit me: Your brand is a rainbow. That’s right…stay with me here folks. Like a rainbow, your brand is an intangible manifestation of the projected source (design, messaging, press, reviews, industry analysis, Google search results, good works, etc) and is different for each observer.
Think about how different your customer experiences your brand vs. a tech recruit? How about a Gartner analyst vs. your marketing team, or a sales lead vs. your competitor? Everybody sees you through a different lens. Depending on what portion of the source projection your observers receive, the perceptions of your brand will be completely different, for better or worse.
So what does this mean? Unless you’re addressing your brand top down in holistic fashion, you’re likely ignoring important segments of your business and maybe even wasting your time. Stop gaps aren’t going to get it done. It’s time to ditch your biases and get brutally honest about the differences between internal and external perceptions accross your entire enterprise, marketing properties, and communications channels.
Even if there isn’t a pot of gold at the end of your rainbow yet, a bowl of Lucky Charms is a good place to start. They’re magically delicious. Cheers.