Branding 101

Branding 101

I recently spoke to a group of non-profit folks at the Plantory. The topic was branding. I have found that in any group you will get as many definitions of a brand as there are people. To simplify things, I started with a story.

Growing up, summer meant basketball. Actually, winter meant basketball, too. I was obsessed in the Jordan era. But, I became disillusioned with the company in the 90’s as the impacts of globalization became more public. I didn’t think the company reflected my values. However, I didn’t have the whole picture. Much later, I found out the company’s response to their supply chain problems was important.

I am not a defender of the Nike brand, but if interested you can find more information here. And, if you are interested in how they are currently impacting the communities they work in read about the Girl Effect.

“One of the conclusions from the story was that while design was important, the logo wasn’t central.”

Same with the products. They were good, but not the only thing. It had a lot to do with the associations rather than those tangible goods. It was a whole culture.

In effect, I played an important part in what would be called Nike’s brand. My interests, values, and experiences mattered.  That I had this shifting relationship with the company is a direct expression of what a brand is.

In a brand, everything stems from what we call Core Values or Purpose. This value never changes. The Organizational Functions stem from there: Physical Space, Employees, Visual Design, Products, Services, etc. These are the things the public interacts with.

And that interaction, that exchange, is where your brand lives. Partly what you do, partly what the public brings. It might be a little scary to admit that you aren’t in complete control of your brand. But, it is an essential first step to understand how branding works.

Branding 101