Every so often, a community goes through a process of strengthening their brand. A community branding process is about strengthening a story to create a better future. It’s about working and conversing together towards possibilities. Strengthening a brand can be one of the most valuable processes a community undertakes.
That said, there are often a number of misunderstandings associated with brands and branding. Here’s a little collection of myths and misconceptions about brands, as well as explanations that help clear them up.
Brand Myths Busted
Myth 1. A brand is a logo
Nope. A logo is part of a brand, but it is not THE brand. A logo is a symbol that over time begins to be associated with a brand. But a logo on its own is not a brand.
A brand is a story, and that story is told in different ways to different people. A logo’s job is to help make the story consistently recognizable to different people over time. A logo is nothing more than a symbol. It’s a symbol that gets stronger the more it's used and recognized. Building a brand is much more than creating a logo. A community brand is the story of how people greet each other, how they live together and how they grow together, their shared perceptions, vision and the conversations they have together about their future. A logo is a symbol that becomes associated with their story and their way of doing things, over time.
Myth 2. Branding our community means changing everything
No way! Strengthening a community’s brand isn’t about creating a whole new story or changing the existing one. Strengthening a community’s story is simply about best expressing its real and authentic story, in the way it deserves to be told. That may mean expressing the pride of people who live in an incredible place. And it might mean discovering areas of a community’s story (how they live and interact with each other) that can be improved. A branding initiative needs the community’s perceptions to ensure its story remains authentic; reflecting today’s community and its desired future. It doesn’t mean the story changes. But it does mean changing how the story is told.
Myth 3. A brand process won't do much
A brand is a story, and a story is a brand. A story isn’t valuable unless it is told. Imagine this: there are two folks selling apples. The apples are identical in every way. The apple sellers each have apple orchards situated right next to each other. They water their apples and grow them the same way. They pick their fruit at the same time. They take their apples to market on the same day. But when they get to market, they do things very differently. One seller dumps his apples on the ground and waits for people to buy them. The other seller carefully places her apples in a display, and calls out to people in the marketplace, telling the story of where her apples came from, how they taste and how they might improve their health. At the end of the day, guess whose apples are being enjoyed by happy customers? Guess which apple story is being told and retold?
A brand demonstrates pride, connects with people, gives them a reason to experience a story or product, and differentiates it from its competition. And a good story, told well, is often what keeps apple growers growing apples.
Why is a brand important?
A brand, or a story well told, helps to identify and strengthen those things that differentiate a community. It also helps to clearly express the vision, goals, culture attitude and spirit of a community.
A brand is how a community expresses itself to the rest of the world. A solid story offers compelling reasons to be proud of a place and to participate in its experience. A strong story is not just heard, it is remembered, retold, and most importantly, it is a story worth experiencing.
A strong, consistent brand demonstrates intentionalism. It shows a community is engaged and concerned about how it is perceived. As with individuals, that intentionalism inspires confidence and trust. Confidence and trust are key emotive elements necessary for attracting and retaining businesses, residents and visitors.
A community is a group of people not just living together, but communicating together. In fact, a community is often most defined by its collective conversations. Strengthening a community’s brand ensures there are conversations about possibilities and opportunities for community. A great story moves a community together into the future, in the best way possible.
How about your community’s future story? Will it be awaited, or created?
For those keen to create, let’s talk.