Branding is not just a logo, slogan, or the field of work you are in, it’s the DNA of the business.
The two concepts of this topic that are related and break them into two parts because I believe we need to have a clear understanding of each concept and then discuss their relation to each other and how the two work together in communication. I will note that through much of my research “Branding and Reputation,” our topics this week, are used together to explain the importance of how they are equally yoked. I want to suggest to you that though they support each other there are fundamental elements of understanding them separately in order to see how they benefit us in communication together. I would imaging that we all as communicators know what branding is but for the sake of my viewers out there who may not have a communications or business background lets start with a quick overview of the basics.
Branding is not your company name or logo, its not even one idea that supports the company. Branding is in the perception of others in which they see our business. We come up with a name, logo, or idea about why our product or business is unique, but the public determines what all that means to them. We have expectations for what we design and how we implement it, but the general public takes those messages and behaviors and turns it into something tangible. The things I do, the things I say, my social media sites, my career profession and my character/demeanor at work, my hobbies, and church evolvement, my taste in clothing, etc. those would tell you a bit more about my brand and who I am. Those things would tell you how I see the world, how I view people, if I am generally trusting, if I am generally caring and selfless, those are the things you would learn about me. The brand is not just the name or logo; the brand is all attributes that make up its DNA inside out. Your company’s gatekeeper’s attitudes, company’s quality in customer service, the company’s philanthropies and values, the companies visual appearance and consistency would be the entire brand.
I understand what branding is, and I can pretty much guess at this point that all those components matter in how the company achieves and grows in the perception of consumers, so how do we maintain how the general public perceives our organization? What happens if something goes wrong and one of those components misrepresent the brand and we receive negative feedback?
That brings us to part two of this blog, reputation.
Reputation is self-explanatory, most of my viewers out there who have taken interest in following this blog learned the value of having a clean respected reputation early on in life, possibly even during grade school right? Why do we care about reputation in regards to our organization or strategic communication planning? It’s simple, trust, loyalty, and adoption. I will share with you a personal detail about myself; I am an Apple junkie! I love my Apple Inc. products and there is nothing you could do or say to change my mind. I trust Apple because they provide superior support and their customer service is very tailored to the customer. I have never had an Apple employee rush me along or try to quickly sale me an item, it’s usually all about me, what I want and what I need. I have Apple support whenever I have an issue and they are patient and kind, they exhaust every option to help me out. I am loyal to Apple because of the before mentioned qualities but also because they build a promising product, of course with many things in life they become outdated or decline in performance over the years, but for the most part it’s a great product! The engineering is personalized and easy to use. Finally I have adopted Apple as my own, whenever the opportunity presents itself I share my experiences with others, I explain to them why I like Apple. I am walking advertisement for Apple. Apple presents itself as a luxury trusted brand, their service from all departments, and products represent just that. They also provide warranty and option to return items or trade out within a given time frame, which lets you know they are not just sales people trying to make that sale. They’re reputation is promising to future buyers. How does reputation for strategic communicators affect our trust, loyalty and adoption?
Many times for strategic communicators the biggest mistake people make is disassociation. We are at time apart of an organization but we are also the primary faces publics see attached to the organization therefore strategic communicators must be mindful of our personal social media sites, our demeanor out in public at the coffee shop or grocery store, we must acknowledge no matter how hard it may be to accept, that we are our brand. I cannot push a non-smoking campaign and allow people to relate to my campaign and me behind the scenes of that campaign and then post pictures on Facebook at a family bar-b-q smoking as if no one would ever see. Yes, we feel that our personal lives are our private business but in the field of work we are in, we have to accept the reality that consumers are all people all over and we are the number one ambassadors to the brand we represent.
As we tie in the subject Brand and Reputation, we realize what branding really is and how reputations can make or break the brand. We understand that our personal lives are not exempt from ridicule and that publics now have the tools at their hands (online media) to destroy our brands reputation with information we expose and we then will be responsible for damage control.