Originally published on November 21, 2017. Updated on April 21, 2020.
What is a corporate brand?
It doesn’t matter if your company operates on an international, national, regional, state, city, or neighborhood level; no matter the size, you have a brand. It really doesn’t matter if you have invested millions or nothing at all in your brand, it still exists. Your brand is the heart of your company; it is what comes to the minds and hearts of consumers and employees when they think of your business.
Every time anyone interacts with anything that has to do with your company it is reinforcing an idea about your business. Your brand is much, much more complex than just your logo and the colors you choose to put on your website. Your brand is so much larger, and it impacts your business on every level.
When companies are first starting up, it’s common for them to skip the branding conversation. After all, there are product lines to develop, services to perfect, and sales to be made. However, every company should start by answering two questions: who are we, and why are we doing this?
This is the core of your brand, and it will set the stage for everything else.
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Designing a corporate brand
Part of a strong brand is knowing what sets you apart from your competition. This should become a cornerstone in your company’s messaging, both externally through marketing and also internally. Your employees should be just as aware of what makes their business different and be able to take pride in what they do every day.
Consumers and staff alike have access to more information than ever before. They have more choices, so it becomes even more critical that your company knows that it knows that it knows why it is different. We’ll give you a tip here: in our current marketing economy, it is not about the “best” product or service.
It’s about the experience. The relationship.
Take Apple for example. It has built such a strong brand around its products that fans will stand in line and even camp out overnight to get their new devices. There is a culture that has evolved around Apple fans to the point that people become Apple fanatics. They will pay more for Apple products just because they are Apple products. Apple carefully cultivated this brand and developed the fan base the followed the brand.
Read more: Developing a strong brand for a private school.
Economic value of a brand
When you’re looking at the value of your business, you must always consider both tangible and intangible assets. Successful organizations know that their brand is one of their most valuable intangible assets. Every year, Interbrand ranks the best brands around the world on their value. How do some of our favorites rank?
The Lego brand comes in 67th with a brand name value of almost $6.7 million. Nike ranks 18th with a brand value at $25 million. Disney’s brand name is worth almost $39 million dollars. Amazon ranks 8th but has the fastest growing brand name value at $50.3 million and 33% growth in 2016. Who were the top three?
Coca-Cola took home the 3rd place spot with a value of $73.1 million; Google captured the second-place spot, their brand is considered to be worth $133,252 million dollars. And drum roll please… Apple stands alone in the first-place spot with a brand name value of $178,119 million dollars.
Now, if you’re running a small to medium-sized business, you might wonder what all of these big names have to do with you. These are some pretty impressive numbers. They illustrate on a brand scale what a brand name can be worth when a company invested in developing the brand. The same principle applies to any business.
For example, the difference in the value of the brand between known competitors Coca-Cola and Pepsi is staggering. Coca-Cola’s $73.1 million is more than three times what Pepsi’s brand name is worth at $20.3 million. The companies both started in the 1890’s a mere five years apart, and yet in the last 120 plus years, Coca-Cola has consistently had a stronger brand. Why? They invested heavily in their company brand.
Brands reinforce values
One of the reasons why brands like Coca-Cola and Apple consistently beat their competition is because they understand the brand guides their company. Their brand answers the question why. Why does the company exist? Why do employees want to work there? Why should consumers buy a Coke versus a Pepsi?
Every company, no matter the size, should be able to answer the why questions on a deeper level than just “because we’re better.” Anyone can say that. You have to go deeper, you have to understand why you are coming to work every day, why your employees should (beyond the paycheck), and why your clients keep coming back.
Salim Ismail, lately of Singular University, writes in his book Exponential Organizations about the importance of a Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP). The MTP is the “higher, aspirational purpose of the organization,” he says. It doesn’t try to describe what the business does, but what it’s aspiring to accomplish. This is the heart of your brand – not the colors or even the logo, but the why. It’s the purpose of the company!
Read more: Why is a strong brand so important?
Corporate brands attract loyalty
Your brand makes promises to customers, fans, and prospects. In every way your company interacts with and communicates with the public, you are either reinforcing that promise or weakening, maybe even breaking it. When that promise is reinforced, time and time again, your customers know what to expect.
That builds loyalty. Let’s take Coca-Cola, for example. Its brand consistency is legendary, while it has updated parts of its messaging, it has never ventured from reinforcing their core message:
- To refresh the world…
- To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…
- To create value and make a difference.
This is its mission, it’s MTP. Time and time again, Coca-Cola has proved it can connect emotionally with its customer base. It’s been in business since 1892, which means its appeal spans generations. That’s some serious longevity.
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