In Effective Marketing Begins With Your Brand, I gave a brief overview of the concept of branding. It doesn’t matter if you are building a home-based consulting business, a local shoe store, a chain of high-end cafes or selling birdhouses on the Internet, the effectiveness of your ongoing marketing effort requires an understanding of and a commitment to building a credible and compelling brand.
But where does your brand reside? And who, ultimately, controls it? In the book Becoming a Category of One, Joe Calloway writes “Your brand resides in the minds of your customers, not in your newspaper ads. Your brand is whoever customers think you are, whatever they think is your promise to them, and whether or not they believe that you keep that promise.”
It’s an important point. Your brand is not confined to what you say it is any more than your personal reputation is determined by who you say you are. Yet it’s a distinction that even some of our largest companies tend to forget at times.
Here’s a recent example. Burger King spends millions of dollars telling the hispanic market how much they cares about them. And well they should: Latinos represent 14% of Burger King national sales, a sum of $1.5 billion. In 2008, BK launched a print campaign highlighting hispanic franchisees and suppliers.
At the same time, Burger King refused to agree to join McDonald’s and other competitors in paying a penny a bushel more to the hispanic farm workers who supply their tomatoes. They only gave in after a scandal erupted in which BK was accused of running a dirty tricks campaign against the hispanic workers advocacy group. How effective do you think those beautiful print ads will be in impressing the hispanic community?
Like every other aspect in life, people will judge your brand not just by your words, but by your actions.