The ABC’s of Branding

As Advanced as Neuroscience or as Simple as ABC

Recently I discussed the importance – and downright efficiencies – of building a brand. From the smallest startup to the largest legend, I encourage branding for all.

Ok, that’s the why. What about the what? What is a brand? Is it a collection of symbols and marks? Is it an endorsement of a certain set of standards? A social code?

Yes, and then some. At its core, a brand is a financial asset worth more than the sum of its parts. To its investors, customers, employees and stakeholders, a brand answers the questions of what matters, to whom and how uniquely compared to other options. In return, brands can pay big, in the form of margins, IP, licenses, loyalty, legacy and more.

Often, it’s a matter of knowing the brand’s ABCs – its artifacts, behaviors and concepts.

  1. Artifacts are the material assets of a brand – logos, identities, marks, products, packages, places, patents and often design language.
  2. Behaviors shape how the brand interacts with its stakeholders: from organizational structure and executives to tone of voice, naming and nomenclature, to brand architecture.
  3. Concepts keep brands interesting to stakeholders. From ad campaigns and events to daily social interactions, concepts leverage prevailing sentiment and cultural interests to maintain ongoing market engagement.

Buried in this muscle memory trigger (admit it: that grade-school chant will haunt your dreams tonight) is a powerful set of paradoxes to satisfy the most rational and the most emotional in all of us. Brand building is both highly imaginative and highly disciplined. Brands invite creativity and utility. And a set of tools for brand strategy can be as advanced as a study in neuroscience, or as simple as ABC.


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