What is a brand?
A brand is the total impression and reputation a person or an organization successfully builds over a period of time. The time there could be as short as few seconds and as long as several decades. Everyday we go about our daily lives, communicate with people, appear in the public, exchange greetings with friends, etc., we are consciously or unconsciously building a brand. In other words, the impression we leave in the hearts of those who come across us or what we do, is our brand.
One valid fact about life is that we can’t control what people choose to feel about us, but with the knowledge of branding, we can influence what they feel. And if you agree with me that leadership is influence and vice versa, it will then be obvious that Brand Leadership can be defined as the ability to influence the opinions and impressions people have about your brand. Therefore, branding is a leadership responsibility and not a self-promotion campaign.
What is branding in relation to your current state?
Branding is not an exercise to be inspired by one’s current state, but an exercise to be inspired by one’s future aspiration. Do you run an organization or you’re just building a personal brand, you don’t pick inspiration from your current state or reality. You pick inspiration from the picture of the future you’re seeing. Branding is a leadership responsibility and as such, has to do with painting a picture of where you’re going in the hearts of those who are following you.
Your current state could be that you don’t have an office space. Not having an office space should not determine the quality of your communication or reduce the quality of experience you give. Branding involves you creatively making use of what you have to create the experience your audience craves for. Just like we have in the picture above, confidence is the only acceptable proof of competence.
Now here is the thing. If you’re not confident about where you’re taking your brand to, how do you expect people to believe in you? When all you see is the current state of your enterprise, it only triggers fear and feelings of inadequacy which will always betray you despite how much you invest in marketing. But if you keep a gaze on the future ahead of you, it begins to improve your communication and the impressions people get. One disaster any brand can suffer is that you’re saying one thing, but doing another or always trying to mask your real feelings about your brand. You can’t mask your fears and doubts in branding. They will always betray you.
What exactly is brand consonance?
When we talk about Brand Consonance, we’re talking about a state of agreement between what you feel about yourself/business/organization, what you say about it and the impact you’re making with it. Alfred Nobel was once a man who had a brand dissonance (opposite of brand consonance). He had a reputation he knew nothing about until the day there was a mistaken identity and he was thought to be dead. For the first time, he saw what people must have been thinking about him on a newspaper – Merchant of Death. You can click on the name to read up the story of how he was able to turn that around.
The Brand Consonance Ideology suggests that there should be synergy between words, actions and thoughts. And most importantly, impact and impressions should agree. How can one make this happen? Always seek feedback. Without an effective method of generating feedback and measuring responses of people, branding is an exercise in futility. Why? You can only influence what you’re accurately aware of. If you’re not aware of what people feel about you, how can you influence it?
When a brand lacks consonance, its brand equity (i.e. the value people place on such a brand) also drops rapidly. Imagine what then happens to revenue? It’s a huge disaster. Branding is not just about marketing and pushing products into the market. Branding involves carefully and creatively shaping the minds of people about your person/organization. It’s a whole lot of variable put together involving working culture, tone of communication, customer service, PR, civic responsibilities, TV appearances, social media, digital designs & prints, among many others.
2020 is fast-moving. What facts have you been able to gather about your brand so far? What impressions have you created? What has been your reputation? If you are not armed with these information, you can never accurately strategize to end 2020 well. The first step in changing a current reality is in being able to define the reality accurately.