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Brand Development Is the Most Important Business Term That You Don’t Understand

Adam Bedway of East Wheeling Clayworks in the studio (photo credit: Daniel Finsley )

Hang around Folklore for more than a couple side conversations, and it’s almost a surety that you’ll hear us start waxing poetic on brand related topics. We might talk about a brand experience that we had, good or bad. We might talk about brand inconsistencies, or we might just talk about why we prefer one brand over another.

So, what are we talking about, and why do we think that brand is so important that we’ve built our entire agency around building them and making them stronger?

In its most basic explanation, a brand is the equivalent to a reputation. In the well-documented words of Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, it’s, “... what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Wrapped up in that definition is the nuance of the experience you provide to customers, both in consistency and quality. It’s the way you present yourself publicly and privately—when people are watching and when you don’t know that they are. It’s how you handle yourself when things go wrong and when they go right.

Your brand is a barometer of how well the experience you provide is aligned with the values and mission you claim to have. Your brand development is all about how intentional you are about making sure they do.

Effective brand development includes aspects of earned media (publicity), shared media (social media), and paid media (advertising). It should involve your marketing, advertising, sales, and public relations teams—or an outside agency that can help you develop and execute those aspects in concert … cough, cough.

It includes all of those things because those are the things that impact the way people form an opinion of who you are and what you’re about, and when enough of those similar opinions become the basis of conversations in line at the store, at a networking event over a cocktail, or in reviews left online, they become your brand.

So, you might be asking yourself, “If that’s the case, how can you actually develop a brand since you don’t have control of what people say?” And you would be correct. You don’t have direct control over your brand. You have control over the individual touchpoints and experiences that lead people to form their opinions. You have control about what they are, how consistent they are, and how intentional they are.

So, brand development is not actually about building your reputation. Brand Development is about being thoughtful about the choices in identity, messaging, customer experience, and storytelling so that when people come in contact with you or your organization, they leave feeling and saying things that are in agreement with your values and vision.

We often get asked why we chose to present ourselves as a public relations agency when so many in our industry, specifically in our region of northern Appalachia, choose to filter their work through advertising and marketing.

The answer to that question is long enough to be its own post, but in short it’s because as the lines between public relations, marketing, and advertising continue to blur together, specifically with the coming-of-age of social media, it is public relations that is the best way to develop healthy brands that are best positioned to succeed in today’s marketplace of ideas and attention. And because of that, every touchpoint and sector of our communications strategy should strengthen our brand development efforts and work together to form consistent touchpoints and a strong reputation.

So, here we stand. And if you’re ever looking for someone to stand with you, we’ll be here.

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