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A Brand Is What You Do, Not Just What You Say

I had a chance over lunch today to once again harp on my favorite marketing point. Which, of course, led to me getting all riled up once more about why the almighty brand is still considered the province of marketing alone at most companies.

For the last time, people, your marketing message is not the brand. And if I'm handed one more graphic standards and copy guidelines binder and told, "Here's our brand," I may have to jump off of a tall building. The marketing message and look of your advertising is just an expression of the brand. The brand itself is something much greater and much more important.

If your company still thinks that only marketing deals with the brand, then consider this: What is the number one way that your customers or clients interface with your company? Because if it's your ads that they are dealing with most, then you have a serious problem. 

If your company is worth it's salt, the number one way customers are interacting with you is through your products, services or the people delivering these things. So if we want to talk about brand, it's there you need to start looking. Ad campaigns come and go. Some may be memorable and some not so much. But the experience with what you're selling and how you sell it is what will linger longest in the minds of a buyer.

A brand is not just what we say. A brand is how we do business. It's how HR interviews and selects new employees. It's how products are designed and managed. It's how customer service deals with each call. A brand is more than a few mere talking points. A brand is an expression of who we are at every point in which the customer comes in contact with the organization.

So please stop thinking of the brand as nothing more than a logo, tagline and PMS color swatches. A brand is the guide that will help you understand who your company really is. Find out who you are, then let this guide you toward being true to yourself and to your customers.

And while you're changing stuff, you might want to switch the covers of the employee handbooks with the covers of the brand guidelines and vice versa. It really would be more accurate.

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