What is brand anyway?

People are often understandably sceptical about brand. Spending valuable time and limited charity resources on brand development can seem to some like a vain indulgence, rather than a mission critical investment. Much of this comes down to a lack of understanding of what brand fundamentally means, with an undue emphasis on logos and visual identity, rather than brand behaviours, brand experience and emotional engagement.

But with trust in charities at an all time low, maintaining a distinctive brand should definitely be high on the list of senior execs’ and trustees’ priorities. In an increasingly competitive, ‘noisy’ marketplace, it’s essential to be able to differentiate your organisation, to compellingly communicate your story, the value you deliver – and to inspire trust and loyalty in your supporters, donors and volunteers.

Brand as a person

Speaking recently at the CASE Europe Annual Conference, I addressed the question "What is brand anyway?" – applying a light hearted "Brand as a person" analogy, to explain why brand is about so much more than physical appearance. Watch a short video (3m 10s) of the explanation below. 


Brand experience at every touchpoint

CASE is aimed at an audience of marcomms professionals working in higher education – so on this occasion I was joined by a client, Maddie McGowan, Director of Marketing, Communications and Development at Cranfield University. Maddie gave an excellent summary of the importance of Brand Experience, which is just as applicable to the charity sector.

"For me a brand is the brand experience, not the pictures... that's a symbol of the brand that you have, but the brand experience is absolutely everything. Your brand is the promise you're making to everybody who touches your organisation, and you've got to convey that through every single touchpoint."

Watch Maddie’s explanation here (37s):


It's this emphasis on the organisation's values and the brand experience that makes your choice of brand agency so important. A new brand identity can only succeed if you take steps as an organisation to embody your brand values in how you behave and communicate too.

A decent agency will only begin design work after first immersing itself in your organisation. They will engage your key stakeholders in the process, harnessing the passion of your existing advocates before clearly articulating brand messaging through a visual identity that acts as a physical manifestation of your brand promise.

If you're wrestling with a brand related challenge, give IE Brand a call on 0121 693 8700.