The most succinct definition of "branding" I've ever heard
Seth Godin gets it and I'll never forget it.
I find myself in rooms talking about “brand strategy” often, and one thing is clear - people have *a lot* of different ideas about what a brand is or isn’t.
Many think it’s advertising. The logo, the tagline. Company values or pricing strategy. Twitter mentions. Your Yelp rating or worse, Glassdoor (shudder).
None of these are wrong, but they all fall short of clearly and concisely explaining the value of a brand.
But Seth Godin gets it. I stumbled onto this 6-minute interview clip in which he explains branding perfectly and I can’t stop thinking about it.
He talks about “the value of a brand” in a way that I’ll be stealing for years:
“What it means to have a brand is that you've made a promise to people... they have expectations... it's a shorthand of what to expect the next time… The value of a brand is how much I would pay extra above the [nearest] substitute.”
A brand is what people expect from you. And that expectation comes from the aggregate of everything they know about you. When those things are aligned, they'll PAY EXTRA FOR IT.
So is it the logo? Yes. But barely. Is it what they heard from a friend about you? Definitely. Is it the flashiness of your TV ad? Could be, but only if they actually see it and trust it. All these things influence peoples’ expectations of you. It’s not one thing. It’s all of it.
And so this is the thing most marketers get wrong (me included!), that you can’t change anyone’s perception (read: expectation) about your brand IF something isn’t working internally... with your team, your leadership, your front-line workers. People know if something is off.
Seth goes on:
“the most important thing is to not worry about your slogan, your spokesperson, the wrapping.... [the most important thing is] to worry about the substance... work that matters for people who care."
Not the slogan. Not the spokesperson. Not the creative.
THE SUBSTANCE. When the substance of a company is aligned and clear and everyone is rowing in the same direction, good brand things happen. Misalignment undermines every good and creative work. We’ve all seen the viral videos of a fast food worker showing what *really happens* in the back, undercutting millions of dollars in ad spend. When that happens, the truth of a brand — the substance — shows that the wrapping ain’t the truth. And that incongruence can’t be trusted. The brand can’t be trusted.
This is the work I really love — creative expression that reflects the truth of what everyone hopes is true, and is actually true. Everyone rowing in the same direction, and expectations set and met.
What’s a brand that you pay MORE for than the alternative? Nike is definitely that for me. And Apple, of course. Those are easy. I always pay more for Smartwater than the alternative, which is ridiculous. The water’s the same but the bottle shape is so nice. 😂
Thanks for reading! This is writing 2/30 for me in the month of Stephtember. Feel free to: