It’s not about what you think your brand is, it’s what your customers or clients think it is. - IMAGE: Getty Images

It’s not about what you think your brand is, it’s what your customers or clients think it is.

IMAGE: Getty Images

A brand is designed to uniquely identify a product or a service. As we look at the elements of a brand, we identify some of the keys of building it and then shake it up a bit. Whether you are starting a new company or currently rebranding your products or services, it is a great idea to continuously evaluate your mission and vision statements. It is one thing to build a brand, but by checking the key components, you also create brand maintenance. 

It's probably safe to say that Coca Cola is pretty well-known, however, Coca-Cola spends an average of $4 billion on branding each year. This shows how important it is for Coca-Cola to invest in keeping its brand fresh, renewed, and growing. Coco-Cola is not just a soda company, it also represents brands such as Vitamin Water, Smartwater, Dasani, Fairlife, and Powerade, just to name a few. The company has more than 200 brands in approximately 200 countries and territories, with several products even competing. 

One of the mission statements that Coca-Cola uses is: “We’re constantly transforming our portfolio, from reducing sugar in our drinks to bringing innovative new products to market to meet the needs of our customers.” It has been a major innovator of branding for a long time. If you do some research, you will find that in 1931 Coca-Cola helped shape the image of Santa as we know him today. Let’s also not forget Coca-Cola taught the world how to sing in perfect harmony.

Mission statements are used to identify how your company differs from the competition; the message of the mission statement can be used both internally and externally. Internally, it can direct employee’s behaviors and create inspiration that help align with the company's core values. Clients may identify your mission statement as a reason to do business with you, and it can also create value alignment. You should continue to ask yourself if your company is living the mission statement and whether it is part of your culture?

Coca-Cola uses a simple, short mission statement that reads: “Refresh the world. Make a difference.” The mission says it wants to create great beverages and make a positive social impact.

A vision statement is a way that a company states what they would like to achieve in the future. The strategies around the vision statement are the how we will get there, and this is also something that should constantly be reviewed. Leadership is a key to creating and following a vision statement. According to author John Maxwell, a leader is someone who “knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” What is your company’s vision statement? The team should know it and be going in that direction because they are following the leader’s vision. 

Here is Coca-Cola’s vision statement: “To craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body and spirit. And done in ways that create a more sustainable business and better shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities and our planet.” By creating the right mission and vision statement, it allows the company to create the strategies that will help achieve its goals. 

The next component is to look at the logo and its colors and determine how they play a part in branding. It is important to remember not to confuse a logo as a brand — a brand is not just a logo. This is something from author Marty Neumeier and his incredible book Zag, which if you haven't read it, it’s a must. It was recommended to me by my friend James Ganther from Mosaic, whose industry knowledge and signature, coupled with his partnership with industry expert Gil Van Over and ACE, exemplify the brand of compliance experts. The Automotive Compliance Education logo has an aesthetically pleasing fountain pen head enhanced with a bow tie. 

I had the opportunity to speak alongside Lindsey Bird, president of Sonsio, about building a brand at the 2022 Agent Summit. Lindsey talked about how trends and styles can shift as business strategies change and the structure of brands evolve. He used a couple of examples of the logo evolution with Walmart from 1962 to 2008 and Shell from 1900 to 1999. Reboot online showed that choosing the right color can improve brand recognition by up to 80%. Forbes says that startups spend from $50 -$50,000 on their logos, so you don’t need to break the bank on the logo. According to Business Insider, Coca-Cola didn’t spend a dime on the logo that created by a bookkeeper, Twitter bought their logo from iStockphoto for $15, while Nike paid an art student in need of art supplies $35 for theirs. 

The test of time is another piece of the logo puzzle, let’s take a cat-like creature with headphones from a company like Napster that is no longer in business but highly recognizable. How about a huge company like Nestle that’s logo of 2 baby birds and a mother in a nest that is not highly recognized. An Actioncard studyshows it takes an average of 10 seconds for consumers to form an opinion of a company, so first impressions count. Logo recognition comes down to this question, will they remember you?

Implementation is where all the pre-work comes together for the pay off — it’s all in the execution. We know that people process information in different ways. When building and refining your brand you need to make sure you connect with your target market. If you attended the Agent Summit, you know that Dean Harrison and Maximus put on an outstanding Bourbon Tasting experience and it’s part of its brand at the summit. Execution and creating mass appeal in different ways like how you’re direct, and make people feel good and trust you as well as giving them facts and details. 

When it comes down to it, this is where being different and being good make the branding impact. Marty Neumeier talks about this concept in Zag where he discusses the dynamics of being different and good. With so many offerings today, it’s easy for customers and clients to turn on their filters to drown out the clutter, that’s why different is so important. Just being different isn’t the only thing, you must also be good otherwise different and not good will fail or have poor results. If you are different and you can truly execute at a high level, being different and good is how you create brand loyalty. To find a zag, look for ideas that will combine those qualities of being good and different. 

We still must have the ‘what, how, who, where, why, and when,’ but many see their brand as what it stands for. It’s not about what you think your brand is, it’s what your customer’s or clients think it is. According to Neumeier, “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.”

Chad White is the executive vice president at Brightline Dealer Advisors.

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