Over the years, I’ve found it fascinating to see how different marketing and creative disciplines define “brand.” My favorite: brand = logo. While the logo is an important visual output of the brand experience, to say that a brand is fully represented by its logo is ignoring a much bigger picture.
Apple is perhaps one of the most obvious companies that truly understands the full view of what it takes to build a powerful brand. This understanding is integrated into its packaging and product design. The marketers at Apple have mastered the customer engagement experience in their stores. Even the clothes Steve Jobs wears are part of the brand experience. And this doesn’t even touch the online experience, cultivation and nurturing of their followers, advertising, PR and overall marketing strategy. All that Apple does makes customers feel they are part of something hip and cool. With a few exceptions of course (that iPhone antennae issue sure didn’t help, but enormous brand equity certainly softened the impact).
This past week Microsoft showed it still has a handle on creating a powerful brand experience with the launch of Xbox Kinect. As the company moves to show Xbox providing something for everyone and being more than a gaming console, it created experiences that connected people to the brand. The launch event in Times Square alone positioned Xbox Kinect as the hottest thing on the market, with dancers showing off the capabilities with R&B star Ne-Yo at center stage. Throughout the year the company has created hands-on experiences for consumers to bring them close to the products and connect them to the brand. Microsoft just raised their forecasted holiday sales for the product from 3 to 5 million based on pre-sales and initial sales since last week’s launch, indicating their brand engagement and launch strategy will pay off. Time will tell in the coming weeks as holiday sales numbers are released.
The moral of these stories? When thinking about your brand, it’s important to consider how you weave the experience through every touch point you have with your target audiences — from your sales associates, retail presence, customer support and Web site to creating experiences that engage consumers directly via events and social media. And design together with innovation plays a critical role, especially in the consumer market where it can make or break the sale.
Who are the companies you think truly get “branding?”