What does ‘brand’ mean and how do you create a positive brand image?

In the fast-paced digital age where branding, marketing and advertising are often all bundled into one messy and misunderstood concoction, it’s worth taking a step back and considering: what does ‘brand’ actually mean? More to the point, how can we curate it in this new age without getting bogged down in the myriad of ever-changing tactics?

What is a brand?

A brand is not just a logo and a slogan. Rather, it is a series of stories and expectations. As marketing guru Seth Godin says: “A brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.”

Essentially, Godin is saying that if a brand doesn’t evoke a strong feeling, spark someone’s imagination or influence them to pay more despite other similar options being available, it doesn’t exist. 

Nike, for example, has a very potent brand. So strong, in fact, that the swoosh on their shoes turns the trainer’s actual tangible value of less than £5 when manufactured in China to prices of more than £100 at sale price.

Not every business is going to become a powerhouse like Nike. That’s not the goal. Instead, your aim is to create a measurable and distinctive brand that appeals to a specific group of people. You can achieve a decent level of brand by following a few simple fundamentals to a tee. From the foundations, you can grow more and more. 

How do you create a positive brand image?

Be reliable in your customer and delivery service

Customer service and delivery is the backbone of a functional brand, with 96% of consumers saying it is an important factor in their loyalty to one. Considering the vast majority have a digital presence, a solid online customer service that people can rely on is crucial. Remember, expectation is what a brand is, so make sure people expect the best.

Delivery is not always in your control, however. That’s why it’s vital that you consider your options when it comes to courier services. As a new brand, delivery is too important to risk incompetence. It would be wise to use a reputable courier to minimise as much risk as possible. You could even go the extra mile by partnering with a courier that promises same day delivery, a real USP that could make your brand stand out against the competition.

Be remarkable and memorable

In his book Purple Cow, Seth Godin argues that the only way to get noticed and build a meaningful brand in the hyper-saturation of products and advertising today is to innovate something new, unique and remarkable — like a purple cow.

You have to get specific. You have to be different. You have to innovate and explore limits – become the cheapest, most expensive, the biggest, the smallest, the fastest, the slowest, the newest, the oldest. Whatever you are, make sure it’s memorable and worth people talking about. Online or not, brand creation is in the same state: you must be remarkable.

Get personal

Being personal in an age where everyone is so interconnected is either very easy or very difficult, depending on your perspective.

Yes, it’s now possible to communicate with a mass of people with a few clicks and swipes. On the face of it, that doesn’t sound personal at all, and in many cases it isn’t, with brands distributing mountains of automated messages, vague updates and purposefully vanilla social media posts, terrified of division and controversy. Ultimately, they’re not engaging.

Use digital platforms to your incredible advantage. Be authentic, cater to your target audience’s preferences, worldviews and values, and be real. Leave handwritten messages in packages. Reply to emails with emojis. Interact with comment sections. Do all the things you would want a brand to do if you were on the other side. There’s no room for corporations who think they’re too big to engage with their audiences anymore. People want authenticity. So to be a modern brand, be yourself.