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All too often I see the words "brand", "branding" and "personal brand" being used in all sort of ways on different media sites and I wanted to give my opinion on how I see these terms and what makes them stand out.


Let's start with the brand. What is it? A brand is a word, name or phrase often associated with an image (a logo, a color or combination of colors, a typography) and often associated with a slogan. The combination is a brand when the whole represents an emotion for the market, or the customers / potential customers. Not clear enough? Let's take an example: Mercedes Benz. The brand is made up of the name, the logo that is a three-pointed star inside a circle, and a slogan that changes from time to time. But when I say Mercedes Benz, what comes to mind? We will often think "quality", "German engineering", "prestige", and so on. Here we are talking about a brand since we have all the required elements. I would like to specify that a brand is an asset for a business; it is worth money. If a company changes hands, there will be amounts awarded for the brand according to its strength. And if a business has financial problems, the value of the brand may be affected, but it will not be eliminated. Think of the fashion brands that often change owners. They continue to grow even if the company that holds them is not constant.

Now what is a personal brand? It is the same thing except that here we are dealing with an entrepreneur, a freelancer or a subcontractor who will have taken the same steps to achieve the objectives stated before, often for a smaller market. But the fundamentals remain the same.

Let’s look next at what branding is. This expression encompasses all the actions that must be taken to build a brand: defining the name, the visual identity, the slogan, the corporate mission, the voice, the differentiating factor, building and implementing the content marketing strategy, website, advertising, how employees communicate with outsiders, public relations, price positioning, etc ... (I will not enumerate all the actions here) ... So, taking these actions will get you into the process of "branding" or building your brand. When do we reach our goal? When the customer associates the desired emotion with the brand. How do we know that? There are companies that specialize in measuring the brand strength. Once we reach our goal, can we stop? No. Your message will be constantly changing according to market variation, your company, your products/services, competitive actions, and problems you will have to solve.

Finally, does having a logo, our own typography, a company name, a color associated with our image, mean that we have a brand? No. These are the basics, but a brand takes years of sustained efforts to be build. If you want to know if you are there, check it with a specialized company.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me. In the meantime, happy thinking.


Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant

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