Branding Defined, Cult Branding Revisited

What is a Brand?

Brands are funny things. You can’t just go to the store and pick up a pound of brand. There’s no brand app to download. You can’t go to the Brand Store and buy brands to make your organization more appealing to your customers.

Brands have to be created, and you might be surprised to find out that you’re not the one doing the creating, at least, not the only one.

A brand is a relationship, formed and shaped by all the emotions and ideas that the customer associates with a product or service that create a distinct customer experience. The stronger and more unique the customer experience is, the more robust the brand becomes.

A brand is a co-authored experience—a mutual relationship that lives between the customer and the brand.

The company sets the intention of the brand, and customers interpret their own meanings based on their experiences.

The ultimate definition of your brand is determined and owned by your customers when they evaluate their experiences with you.

How Customers Perceive Your Brand

Your customers’ perceptions of your brand are far more multi-dimensional than you ever imagined.

Everything is in there, including all things real or perceived, rational or emotional, physical or sensory, thought or felt, whether in form or function, planned or unplanned.

You could say a brand is all the good advertising you run, all the bad advertising you regret, your best and worst customer service stories—virtually everything that your enterprise does and the public’s perception of those actions.

This includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Collectively, this conglomerate determines the customer experience and, therefore, the marketplace’s perception of your brand.

You do not control your brand. You can control what your brand does, but how your brand is perceived is entirely up to your customers.

Your brand’s messaging and actions define the parameters of your customers’ experiences, but your customers come to you with their own frameworks of education, experience, and emotion which influence how they interpret your brand and feel about your organization. The combination of your actions and your customers’ perceptions is your brand.

What is a Cult Brand?

Cult Brands have mastered the art of building meaningful, long-term relationships with their customers. Cult Brands exist in every industry.

Successful brands need to be consistent. Cult Brands need to be consistently amazing.

Cult Brands understand that their brands belong to the customers, and only the customer’s voice counts.

Rather than engaging in a meaningless attempt to dictate to the customer what they should want, a successful Cult Brand embraces its customers by anticipating their basic human and spiritual needs. As a consequence, Cult Brands achieve a level of customer loyalty unprecedented in traditional business.

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