I recently had a conversation with a retired CEO who fancied himself a savvy marketer. He was recounting how he had participated in a rebranding project for a not-for-profit organization on whose board he served. He was very proud of this work and went on to tell me how they had carefully chosen the symbol to represent the brand in its logo. When I asked him what his brand’s unique point of difference was, he indicated that it was the unique symbol featured in the logo. When I asked him why people would choose the brand over its competition, he wasn’t sure how to answer. When I asked him what the brand’s promise was, again he wasn’t sure how to answer.
With my constant immersion in branding, I sometimes forget that some people still think that a brand is a logo or an ad campaign and nothing more, even some people who should know better.
A brand is a source of a promise to its customers. It promises relevant differentiated benefits. It does so not only to place itself into the purchase consideration set, but even more importantly, to be the brand chosen from that purchase consideration set. This is also sometimes referred to as the brand’s unique value proposition. Whether it is called a unique value proposition or a promise of relevant differentiated benefits, it is very important that the promise or proposition be delivered consistently at each point of customer contact, time after time.
While brand identity and advertising campaigns are important, they are only effective to the extent that they reinforce an underlying promise that is compelling to the brand’s target customers. Enough said.
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