Is your brand like a dirty car?
I was driving to work the other day and my mind wandered to the interior of my car, which I realised was in need of a clean. This raised the question: who does it need cleaning for? No-one really sees the interior of my car other than my kids, and they are largely to blame for the messiness anyway. I could play the ‘tidy car, tidy mind’ card, but I’ll save it for another day. The point here is, if and when I clean the interior of my car, it will be for me.
Then I got to thinking about the exterior of my car, which also needs a clean. If and when I get round to cleaning it, who am I doing this for? From inside my car, I can only see the bonnet. So if the windscreen and bonnet are clean, what do I care whether the rest is dirty or not? Cleaning the exterior of my car is, surely, for the benefit of others, right?
This dichotomy (if that’s what it’s called) reminds me of branding.
Branding is a big subject, it means different things to different people. To some it’s a logo! Branding people will hate me for saying that. To others, it’s an identity. To others, it’s an ethos, or philosophy.
To me, branding is the interior and exterior of a car.
The interior is the ‘private’ parts of your business. The bits that not everyone sees. It’s staff relationships and core values. This is the parts that make a culture, a shared vision, a belief that everyone comes to work because they strive towards the same thing. Getting this into some sort of mission statement that makes sense is no easy task, and the reason why agencies exist to help define it.
The exterior is the public part of your business, the bit everyone sees. This is more than likely the bit people refer to when they talk about branding. It’s the outside perception of your business, how people identify you. It could be nothing more than a logo, but it could be so much more; social media activity, charity involvement, ethical and environmental politics… it could be the premises you occupy, how you answer the phone, and how much you pay your staff.
I guess for any business that takes branding seriously, the aim is to have an internal culture that everyone enjoys being a part of, and an external identity that people aspire to, want to be a part of, and want to do business with.
So, to return to my analogy, think of brand like your car:
If you don’t keep the interior tidy, you’ll be too ashamed to offer others a lift. And, guess what, that’s OK, because if you don’t clean the exterior, no-one will want to get in anyway.
If the interior is clean and tidy, you’ll enjoy riding in it, and if the exterior is sparkly and clean, others will want to ride with you.