What’s your brand?

Recently I’ve been thinking about the brand. For me, depending on where I am, it’s either my organization’s brand or it’s my church’s brand.

What is a brand, anyway? Of course, the root meaning comes from the brand used to identify livestock on an open range. Something akin to a logo.

If you think first about your logo when you think of brand, you’re losing your brand. Often, though, that’s the way we think of brand. As in, what symbols or colors or name or sounds will cause people to think of us.

Here’s a more important piece of brand, going in the opposite direction. When people hear your name or see your logo, what are the first thoughts that pop into their head? Do you know?

For Habitat for Humanity, at least in my locality, first thoughts are often… they build houses, they give houses to the poor, they are funded by the government. The first one of those is true. The others, unfortunately, are parts of our brand that we work daily to undo. (By the way, we sell houses to the poor and we are privately funded).

My church has recently identified its brand. Again, unfortunately, it’s not good – “That’s the church where they always fight with each other.” We’ve got our work cut out for us.

That leads us to… Michael’s first law of brand – you don’t own your brand. Think, “New Coke.”

Maker’s Mark bourbon learned this the hard way recently. Faced with unprecedented popularity, they projected a shortage of available whiskey this year. In order to meet demand, they decided to cut the whiskey to a lower percentage of alcohol, thereby allowing them to produce more bottles from the same number of barrels.

The people who “own” Maker’s brand (ie., the customers) let them know in no uncertain terms that the decision was a bad mistake. The distillery reversed its decision in order to protect its brand.

Do you know your brand? What do people in the community think of when they hear your name? Time to find out. Ask them.

After you do that, here’s a fun game to test your brand knowledge.