My walk to work got me thinking about branding. A prominent church on my route has begun posting a sign outside its doors that proclaims “Church is Cool” in big, bold letters. Walk a little closer and the fine print in parentheses below reads “And Air Conditioned Too.”
Set aside for a moment – if you can – thoughts of religion, what it means to be cool, and the obvious play on words. Think about the statement itself, and how a branding guru would critically analyze it. Marty Neumeier captures it best in his whiteboard overview, The Brand Gap, when he writes, “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s not what you say it is. It’s what THEY say it is.”
That’s just it: you can’t tell someone what they should believe or how they should feel about your business or organization. You have to guide their perception through consistent, heartfelt interaction and delivered promises and expectations.
Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t wake up one morning with a new logo or a revised declarative statement and suddenly proclaim a new brand identity. There are too many intangibles that outweigh the superficial “look and feel” of a brand.
We have a common saying in our office: “People remember half of what they read, a third of what you tell them, and 100 percent of what they feel.” That gut feeling is what a brand is all about – and no sign on my way to work will persuade me to think otherwise.