The Ten Commandments of Community Branding
1. Logos and slogans are not brands.
They are merely marketing messages used to reinforce, support and strengthen your brand. They make up 2% of a brand, yet local politics give it 98% of the attention when they’re developing they’re brand.
2. Brands are perceptions.
They are what people think of you – good or bad. Sometimes communities need a “repositioning” or a “rebranding” effort.
3. Brands are about differentiation.
What differentiates you from everyone else? What sets you apart?
4. Brands are narrow.
Narrow your focus, then narrow it some more. Brands are specific. Find your niche and promote it like crazy. Pontiac was the muscle car brand until they broadened it to include wimpy four-cylinder compact cars. Where is Pontiac today? Gone. They are a history lesson in branding gone bad.
5. Brands are about ownership.
Napa Valley owns the wine country brand. Nashville owns the country music brand. Branson, Missouri owns the music theater capital brand.
6. Steer clear of focus groups.
You never build a successful brand using focus groups. The “group hug mentality” will give you a watered-down generic “one size fits all” brand. Apple, the world’s most valuable company, doesn’t use focus groups. Steve Jobs once noted that “customers don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” The iPad is a perfect example of that.
7. Brands are built on product.
Brands are a promise: that you will deliver on the perception we have of you. And those perceptions are built on product and communicated by marketing – not the other way around. For decades Volvo was touted as the safest car. The product backed it up and today they are still seen as a very safe car.
8. You never roll out a brand.
A brand is earned – good or bad. It can take years, even decades, to build a strong brand. Brands are largely developed via word of mouth: publicity, social media. After all, brands are built because of what people think of you. You build your brand through public relations, advertising is used to maintain your ownership position.
9. Great brands evoke emotion.
They hit you in an emotional spot. They make you want to go there. They are memorable. They have strong “top of mind awareness.” Disney’s advertising is a perfect example of how to evoke emotion.
10. Brands require tireless champions.
One of my favorite quotes is “A by-product of brands ‘for the people’ is the committee that compromises and kills a potential brand home run. This is why you never see statues of committees in public parks; you see brave leaders.” Politics is the number one killer of any branding project, and it’s worse with membership organizations than with elected officials. The desire to be all things to all people is so overwhelming, but it will kill a winning brand.
If this were easy, everyone would be doing it! What sets you apart from everyone else? What’s your brand story?