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What is a brand? It’s one of the most common questions we hear. But perhaps a better question would be this: What isn’t a brand?

The concept of a brand is, after all, often misunderstood. By the generally accepted definition, a brand represents the sum of all the emotional and psychological connections customers and other stakeholders have with your company and its products. Many people think that a brand is the same thing as a logo. But it isn’t. A company’s logo is a symbol of the brand ‚Ä쬆or it least it should be if it’s doing its job. Likewise, a company’s name, its ad campaigns, its corporate headquarters, and so on aren’t the brand, either.

The brand is something intangible, but powerful. It’s how people ‚Ä쬆real people, not just your target audience ‚Ä쬆feel about your company or product on an emotional level. It’s the promise that the leading brand of corn is going to taste better than the generic. Or the reputation a small hardware chain has for providing more helpful service than its big box competitors.

How does an agency like Maris, West & Baker fit into the picture? Very simply, we help companies understand and communicate their brand values and brand personality. We start with a brand strategy session to get a better understanding of your business, your products or services, your culture and your competition. Then we distill that information into a simplified form meant to focus and streamline brand messaging. Simplicity is the key, by the way: You can’t expect people to have a brand connection with your company that’s based on your superior service quality, vast knowledge, innovative products, unbeatable value, blah, blah and blah. Keep it simple.

Next, we recommend appropriate channels for communicating your brand. Depending on your needs, this process might involve developing a product or company name, logo, ad campaign, PR strategy, environmental design and the like. But, whatever marketing products are ultimately chosen, the important thing is staying true to your brand story. Both in the way you market your company or product. And in the way you operate your company, too. (That second part is very important. While hypocritical branding always fails sooner or later, a great brand strategy can help guide a company’s business decisions in ways that strengthen its customer relationships.)

Whether you’re starting up a new company, launching a new product, or just looking to strengthen your existing brand strategy, it pays to get the branding right. Call us if you’d like to know more about how we can help.