Strategic Design | marketing & branding thoughts by Nick Rice

Dynamic marketing, branding & design strategies that span the gap between business & creative.

Brand adjectives and alignment

I run across a lot of marketing managers that continue to think of their brand as their logo. Obviously there is much more to your brand than just your logo mark. I've read all of the classic brand definitions and here is mine:

Your brand is defined by the individual gut feelings of those people that has been exposed to your company and/or products and services.

Notice that they do not have to be current or previous customers; nor do they need direct contact with your offerings or corporation.

One thing that we tend to do with customers is get them talking about brands they favor. Doesn't matter who or what. But it's all about describing the company without necessarily talking about their products. Here are some examples:

  • fitness
  • athletic
  • speed
  • innovation
  • not as globally focused as Adidas
Chase Manhattan
  • late fees
  • always merging w/ another bank
  • lots of direct mail
Red Lobster
  • hopefully fresh
  • suburban
  • decent substitute for the real thing
  • average
  • in touch w/ the creative industry
  • don't screw up the Macromedia apps
  • trusted
A lot of product-driven companies like to talk about product features or industry jargon. No normal customer thinks that way. Most users are very pragmatic about their brand impressions. It's basically a bell curve. They love a few brands, hate a few brands, and most are just stuck in the middle. If you can become loved, you'll grow profitably. Preference leads to loyalty and that's a powerful position.

If you're responsible for marketing products, I contend that you must know what your customers and the general public think of your brand. Overlay that with your desired brand adjectives. If there is a gap, you've got a problem. And unfortunately you cannot fix it immediately - simply because you cannot completely control your brand. The best you can hope for is alignment between those gut feelings about your company, products, services and your vision.

What do you want to be known for? And don't cop out by saying "exemplary customer service" or "industry leading whatever" or some crap like that. It's hard work to change gut feelings. But you can with innovation and communication - and time. Consistent alignment is the primary driver of brand strength.

Do you have an alignment issue with your brand?

technorati tags > branding, marketing, strategy, alignment, brand promise, gut feelings,

1 Responses to “Brand adjectives and alignment”

  1. # Anonymous Mary Schmidt

    Great examples! Love the "decent substitute for the real thing" for Red Lobster. Talk about a ringing endorsement! Personally, I'd say, "Not as bad as some would have you think"

    Here's another one for you:


    "Used to be much better and actually serve Chili."


    "Good if you're driving through rural Oklahoma and don't want Micky D's. At least I can get a cold beer."

    I've actually had people tell me "we're branded!" and then rattle on about their new (and expensive) logo. Ah yahhh!  

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