It’s Not Strategy Until You Brand It

Posted by Jeff Lamboy on October 11, 2012

Building your brand and preserving your reputation is crucial to you and your business. It takes hard work, but there are no shortcuts to success. Brand strategy is the cornerstone of who you are and what your company stands for. Components of your brand strategy are highly visible, highly recognizable, and can help your company speak to customers without saying a word.

This two-part series provides some insight to help you get started on your brand journey. And breaking down the parts of logo, message and tagline are just the first step.

It’s all about the logo

When it comes to brand, your logo is an important representative of your company: it’s your Executive, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service departments all rolled into one.

It also has the highest visibility in your company. When I mention a prancing horse logo, what comes to mind? The Kentucky Derby, a ride in a hansom cab, or something else completely un-equestrian related? Add a splash of color by mentioning a black prancing horse and a yellow background and you are now able to add a little more context to the brand.

For those not familiar, this is the color palate and logo for Ferrari.

Ferrari sees itself as the most passionate, cutting-edge, technology leader in the world; the world sees Ferrari as the manufacturer of some of the sexiest, most collectable, and highest performing vehicles in the world.

Did I mention they are owned by Fiat, the same company that owns Dodge? The Formula1 and Hemi crowd don’t share many similarities; other than 4 tires and an engine, we’re comparing Grey Poupon to French’s Mustard in the automotive world.

Dodge doesn’t evoke the same style, finesse, and price premium that Ferrari conjures. And it shouldn’t — the audience is different. Both companies are passionate and both deliver on their brand promise. They just do it to while focusing on their respective audiences. Knowing your audience will help you develop a logo that stands for your company and speaks to your specific audience.

Get the message

Your brand messaging is what you want to communicate to the public, to customers, and to your employees. Perhaps this represents the level of service you provide or the technology incorporated into the products you build. If you are an industry leader in value, performance, or technology, share that in your message.

It’s this consistent messaging that everyone—from employees to partners to customers—should associate with you. It demonstrates what you stand for and how you perform. This message speaks to your passion and your expertise and it is supported by what your logo represents.

Tag, you’re it

A tagline is a concise statement that is not only meaningful, but also demonstrates the essence of your brand.

Ford Trucks is a great example. When Ford states, “Built Ford Tough,” it doesn’t take a whole lot of interpretation to understand and identify the meaning. Yes, trucks have to withstand daily abuse. They have to be rugged, and while they can be dressed up, they are meant to work dependably and flawlessly day in and day out.

Three words from Ford convey that their trucks are the toughest in the business.

When you are crafting a tagline, think of what speaks to both you and your audience. Simpler is better and leaves little room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation. Think classic versus faddish when crafting your tagline, and remember that more is less.

What’s next

Part two of this series focuses on creating your voice, the importance of consistency, and integrating your brand across your business.

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Submitted by Sid on Thu, 10/25/2012 - 6:00am

This was one of the most cogent articles I read on branding. The Dodge vs. Ferrari example was awesome. It is rare to find the understanding and importance of branding written so clearly an easy to understand. Kudos!

Submitted by Michael Broadway on Thu, 10/25/2012 - 10:40am

Great information. The tagline section made me think of Cary Grant's struggle with the Wham tagline in the movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. The housekeeper finally told the children "You eatin' ham if you ain't eatin' Wham." And that was the tagline he had been searching for. A little long, but it was only a movie.

Chevrolet had a long season with "The Heartbeat of America." Prior to that, back in the 50s, they used "See the USA in your Chevrolet." That was when traveling to California down Route 66 was the summer vacation that Americans looked forward to.

I remember Timex: Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Maxwell House Coffee: Good to the last drop.

The whole point of my rambling here is to reinforce the accuracy of your statement regarding the value of the tagline. If those taglines hadn't been a part of their print and broadcast advertising, and driven home with every opportunity, I probably wouldn't have remembered them after all these years.

I enjoyed your article very much.

Submitted by Jeff Lamboy on Thu, 10/25/2012 - 11:22am

Hi Sid and thanks so much for the feedback. I think it's sometimes easier to identify brand with major purchases like vehicles. Owners of Toyota, Subaru, and Volvo vehicles demonstrate their loyalty in good times and bad. Customers identify brand with perceived value. The best companies know this and hopefully deliver on their promise. When they can't, it makes for great and sometimes unwanted press, all depending on point of view. It also affords the opportunity to positively address those shortcomings by meeting them head on.

Much appreciated!


Submitted by Jeff Lamboy on Thu, 10/25/2012 - 12:26pm

Hi Michael and I really appreciate the feedback! So much so that I reminisced on the following automotive taglines:

"You asked for it, you got it!" - Toyota
"There is no substitute." - Porsche
"The ultimate driving machine." - BMW
"The power to surprise." - Kia

And then it would be great to take Aston Martin's tagline: "Power, beauty, and soul," and repurpose it for Hyundai: "Power and Beauty reside in the Seoul," but it's made right here in Alabama! My apologies as I digress.

Thanks so much for your memorable taglines, as well, and the opportunity this weekend to view the timely efforts and challenges of one Mr. Blandings.

I'm left with this one last quote from the movie, "...advertising makes people who can't afford it, buy things they don't want, with money they haven't got."

True and relative wisdom indeed, circa 1948.