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The truth about branding – (a brief confession)
Deep down in my heart of hearts I carry a dirty secret about branding — it’s all a facade! And I mean that in best and worst sense of the word.
On one level, branding is completely made up, a construct — an image in the collective mind combined with a set of emotions and expectations. In essence, a completely fabricated story.
But at the risk of seeming jaded, fabrication is not all that bad of a thing. We fabricate stories but we also fabricate skyscrapers and great works of art. Fabrication is the active part of imagination… the quickening agent that makes the ethereal real and tangible. To fabricate is to put the mind in motion and that’s a good thing. The trick is to do it deliberately, consciously and with intention.
Which brings us to curb appeal.
As any real estate professional will tell you, it’s the first impression that counts, the first sights, sounds and emotions that leave an indelible impression in the mind of the buyer. When your customers approach your brand, what is their initial response? Are they greeted with the impression you intentionally created? Did you put up a beautiful canopy to welcome them? Or does your brand look like the sign in front of the Bates Motel?
We really struggle with this as a society, as businesses and as individuals. We want to be discriminating but not discriminate. We want to be unique and special but treat everyone the same. We want to genuine and transparent, and not “put on a facade,” yet we want to look our very best.
If we realize that everything we do is a creation, an act of definition, then we can do so without these double messages. We can be both genuine and yet still smell nice! We can put a fresh coat of paint on our company image, roll out the welcome mat, pick out relaxing colors, add some background music and “trick out” everything we do… and still be authentic!
The authenticity is in the intention… the desire to create a wonderful customer experience. The transparency is in the ready admission that “Yes, we want to please you!” Branding (when well done) both covers your business and reveals it. It provides an exterior appearance, one that hopefully reflects the interior experience.
So why not have a good looking exterior to your brand! Make it great looking, spruce it up, mow the lawn, get new shutters. Invest and build your “brand equity.” Just remember the outer reflects the inner. So make sure your outward appearance is a true reflection of your inner values. If you can do that, your customers will find your brand all the more appealing.
Phillip Davis is a company branding expert with over 25 years of business naming, branding and marketing experience. Phil has named over 250 regional, national and international companies, products and services. He frequently writes, speaks and blogs on the subject of “brilliant branding.” His work can be viewed at TungstenBranding.com.