Your brand is more than your logo. It's more than the color palette on your office door. It's more than any one part of your visual identity in the market.

It's more than your digital identity itself.

What is a Brand?

I've written on this extensively in the past, but apparently the definition of a brand is still a mystery to many in my industry. A brand isn't a logo, a catch phrase, or the cute layout on your business cards.

Your brand is a story.

It's the story your products tell about your customers.

It's the story you tell about your products.

It's the story your customers tell about your business.

A brand is a circular relationship between you, the reason you're in business, and the people with whom you conduct that business. Every piece of the triangle is important, because any one of them can kill your company.

Elemental Interplay

If your products absolutely suck, any way you talk about them in a positive light will appear false and your customers will punish you with negative brand equity - read: poor market position. If your products are awesome, but you're a horrible salesperson, then your customers won't bother to look your direction in the first place.

If you're a great salesperson, but your customers despise something else about your identity - your brand - then the best product in the world is still doomed to fail. All three elements are interdependent and play on one another to either strengthen your brand or pull it down.

How does this affect you?

Firstly, you need to have quality products. They don't need to be the best on the market, but they need to do the best job on the market. A product's job is either reduce pain or increase pleasure in your customers' lives. The extent at which you do so matters less than the ease at which you do it.

Say the perfect widget costs $1,000 and solves every possible problem for your customer, but requires 3 years of 1:1 training to use. A less-perfect widget might cost $2,000 and only solve half of your customer's problems, but by requiring only 3 hours of training to use it will quickly corner the market.

Secondly, you have to communicate your brand - your identity - to the customers. Why did you build the widget? Why are you in business in the first place? What is it about you or your company that sets you apart from the other widget-makers of the world?

Finally, you have to ensure that all of your other behavior is on-brand. If your company is positioned as a family-friendly firm, but your CEO is a frequent target for scandal, the public will have a hard time buying your brand story and an easy time not buying your product.

Your brand is not the logo on your door. It is the sum total of your corporate and personal identity; they way you and your products relate to the world and the world back to you.