June 25, 2012

Brand: Burn, Baby, Burn

Farmers understand branding.

There’s a long history of branding cattle as a way to distinguish one herd from another. The brand of a well-respected rancher is sought after and considered more valuable. From this agrarian perspective, branding is about creating a guide to choice.

The Vikings used the word “brandr” – which means “to burn.” 

Taking these two meanings of branding can help inform our work today. Branding in a church setting isn’t about making more money or selling more widgets, but it is about helping people choose, helping to spark the fire so their hearts may be, as theologian John Wesley wrote, “strangely warmed.”

A brand is a collection of perceptions and impressions formed about an organization – in our case, the church. It is the personality of the organization expressed visually and verbally, aimed at creating meaningful connections between the brand (the church) and people.

As I shared earlier, our diocese is embarking on a branding project. Since this is new territory for me, I asked our consultant to share definitions of different brand terms. I promised to share them with you, so you can feel more informed than I did!

Here are some of the definitions, compliments of Lisa Koepke, our consultant and a brand designer for family favorites like Bounty paper towels, Pampers diapers, and Bayer aspirin. 

  • Brand Architecture: The structure of a brand within an organization of its entities or products. It is the way brands within an organization relate to and differentiate from one another. Brand architecture distinguishes facets of branding within an organization, clearly identifying primary or parent brands, and the relationship of sub-brands or internal tiering. (For us, this architecture is important, as we want to develop an architecture that supports the diocese, diocesan ministries, related organizations, and then congregations). 
  • Brand Assets: Any component of a brand that carries strategic value such as brandmark, tagline, ownable features, or characteristics that resonate with consumers. 
  • Brand Character or Personality: Characteristics associated with a brand that help audiences build a relationship to a product or service. Brand character usually follows and builds on Brand Identity. 
  • Brand Equity or Brand Value: The perceived value of a brand that gives it weighted emphasis. Brand Equity is a set of assets or liabilities that support or diminish the value associated with the brand. Defining brand equity is challenging in both quantitative and qualitative measuring systems without a standardized process for measurement. Market share is a point of reference that can be associated with brand equity. 
  • Brand Guidelines: User guide to deploying brand assets including brandmark, typography, colors associated with the brand. 
  • Brand Identity: Outward expression of a brand including visual, verbal, symbolic, and evocative signals identifiable to consumers. 
  • Brandmark or Logo: The core element of a visual brand identity taking the form of an identifiable graphic symbol or expression of the brand deployable across all media. 
  • Logotype or Wordmark: A typographic expression of a brand in a readable word form. A wordmark can be used independently or in association with a brandmark or logo. 
  • Brand Refresh: An existing brand is reviewed and revived to align it with the natural evolution that has occurred over time. This usually includes updating the visual expression of the brand assets and guidelines. (For us, this means looking at our diocesan seal and seeing if there’s a way to refresh it while retaining its traditional look and feel). 

A key premise to brand development is that our brand is not what we say that it is (sorry, no navel-gazing and/or self-congratulations). A brand is what the public says that it is. 

Next up: How to figure out what the public thinks about us.