What is a brand?
One more commonly held definition of a brand is that it is a "promise of value" from a company, product or service, for its customers, employees, shareholders and others.
Today, we also recognize the important application of branding for places, and even people. For example, consider what Toronto means for residents, visitors and investors, or the meaning of Wayne Gretzky, for family, friends, business associates and fans.
It seems, therefore, that anything with a "name" has the potential for being "a brand". More typically, however, we ususally only refer to a "name", "mark" or "symbol", or combination of these, as a brand when we are able to associate specific meaning with the expectations and experiences we have with the underlying products, services or relationships that they represent to us.
Put another way; we only tend to think of a "name" as a "brand" when it is distinctive in our minds and we can distinguish its "promise of value" from another brand we may be considering to satisfy a need.
Otherwise, a "name" is simply a "name". It has no "brand power."
How do you build a strong brand?
Not all brands become strong brands. Strong brands always have a compelling "promise of value" for their customers and other brand communities, which make them preferred to alternative brand choices.
Experience shows that in the business world, strong brands with the power to influence the choices of customers, employees, shareholders and others, are most often developed through the purposeful actions of their owners who work tirelessly to associate and strengthen a compelling "promise of value" with their brands.
What these companies do, in other words, is walk the talk. Their managers view their organizations as interconnected and symbiotic business systems whose purpose is to create "superior value" for all of their communities, and they have an inherent understanding of the importance of becoming Strong on The Inside™ if they are to be successful in building strong brands and businesses.
The key, of course, is to establish clear business goals informed by knowledge of the marketplace and their capabilities, and empowered by the alignment and enhancements they create within all facets of their organizations to create, deliver and communicate the "superior value" so essential for building strong brands and businesses. It is this desire to create "superior value" which acts as the essential internal beacon for organizational cohesion, and which ultimately leads to the development of high performance business systems.
This same thinking, and the use of leading managerial practices for brand building in the business world, has proven to be equally effective and valuable when applied to brand building in other situations, such as the branding of places, and importantly, when building strong personal brands and "brand power."