Brand survival and the brand iceberg

By: Berry Burgess

Date: 27 May 2011

Branding, is like an iceberg — it exists mostly below the surface. The visible brand messaging accounts for what we see above sea level. The invisible brand – the company culture, the customer experience — is the mass below the surface

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin came back from the moon, the first thing they were greeted by was a huge neon sign that said "Welcome to Earth — home of Coca-Cola". That is how powerful a brand can be.

But your company doesn’t have to be the size of Coca-Cola or Mercedes to have a brand. In fact, every business has one. And by building yours into a strong one it can become one of your most valuable assets. Branding is a simple representation of who you, your company or your product are. One of the key fundamental steps to begin this process is to implement some honest self-analysis to discover your brand truth. The results of this establishes your unique brand identity if you are true to yourself.

Branding ultimately creates that all important first impression in your customers mind. A dynamic branding and product positioning formula is one that will invite new customers, and propel them into a desired action.

Remember, a brand is not a name or a logo or a colour scheme or a design layout or a tag line or an advertising theme. A brand lives in the customer’s perception. A brand is not what the marketer says it is; it’s what the customer thinks it is. A brand begins and ends with the customer, and most important to the customer’s perception is the customer experience. Customers will believe their own experience before they believe the advertising.

Advertising works only when it is supported by the customer experience, and strong brands are built one customer experience at a time. Effective branding is what causes people to walk past all the no-name, on-sale colas at the grocery store and pick up the six-pack of Coca-Cola that costs twice as much — just ask Neil Armstrong.

Berry Burgess is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, and managing director of Armadillo Creative.

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