Look yourself in the mirror and utter three words that you think would best describe you. Now open your social media account and try to find what your network of friends have posted which describe who you are. Lastly, sit down in a cafe, have a drink, and think what other people are thinking when they are looking at you.
From that little exercise, do you find a match or a resemblance between what you think of yourself and what other people think of you? Is it three out of three, or two out of three, or one out of three, or no resemblance whatsoever?
If there is a resemblance, congratulation because whether you meant it or not, you have successfully done a form of branding. If there is no resemblance and you are essentially a lone wolf, then it’s alright because that won’t bother you. However, if you are up at night thinking why don’t other people think of you as you think of yourselves, perhaps you might want to start considering a little bit of brand strategy for your life.
A similar exercise can be done for businesses (big or small), political figures, political parties, NGOs, or any kind of organizations and institutions. Since the act of brand (and branding) can be applied by and to anyone or indeed mostly anything. It is a very open field and almost anyone can claim they know how to do branding, unlike rocket science.
However, the open field of branding bring upon some form of problem. In the sense that it has made branding become more technical and often lacks the main ingredient, which is understanding the target audience/market. Too often do we see when people talked about branding or brand strategy, their first go to move is design and logo. Following that, when people are reviewing their brand then most of the assessment are based on the reviewer’s personal preference. They forget that what matters most in reviewing branding and brand strategy is the perspective of the target audience/market.
It is essentially a fundamental concept of communication that people also often forget. In daily communication, often we see people only care what they say to other people. With that the question most people have in their mind is “What do I want to say?” While the more important question in communication is “What do I want people to think or act?” The shift of question might seem minor, but amazing on how it can open our eyes to new perspective.
With the question of “What do I want people to think or act?” In our minds, we will put more effort in understanding our target audience/market. What are their hot buttons? Their preferences? Their problems and solutions they are searching for? Who do they trust the most?
The same concept applies to brand. Your first instinct in developing a brand or planning a branding activity should not be “What do we want to do?” Instead you should ask yourself “What do we want the people to think or do after they are expose to our brand(ing)?” Remember the little exercise in the beginning of this article. The more resemblance there are between what people think about you with what you want people to think about you, it means the better you are in communicating your brand verbally or visually.