Don't think you have a brand? Think again.

I once had a meeting with an important organization that didn’t think it was a brand. It had a logo, employees and performed public services. But it didn’t consider these things in any way related to the brand. The main decision maker felt that branding was too low brow and vulgar  to be associated with that institution.

In fact, they didn’t even want the word brand to be used in the meeting. I’ve got a marketing degree and I am a branding geek. It was a little awkward to say the least. 

What just happened!?

I walked out of that meeting feeling like I was in bizarro world. It seemed impossible to me that this could still be a way of thinking in today’s business environment.  After all, have they never heard of Apple?! 

That meeting also taught me a valuable lesson. The reason for the meeting was brand related - a desire to enhance the public and internal perception of the organization. The brand hadn’t had a refresh in decades. Its vision, message and touchpoints were no longer aligned or communicated sufficiently to build trust, engagement or affinity with its audience. 

Don't be afraid to embrace the brand.

While it was clear to me that getting to the core of the brand to distill a narrative and develop messaging was one way to help them, it was not apparent to them. In fact, this meeting reminded me that people often think branding is complicated. Essentially, it’s not. At its heart it is a promise of how you will help people and what their experience with you will be. 

The brand is an intrinsic part of how people perceive experiences with organizations. Every touchpoint - the website, digital communication like social media and email, the brick and mortar location, the employees - should reflect that promise that you make to them. Understanding how to authentically communicate the values of your brand and letting people know why they should care about it is one of the most valuable investments an organization can make. 

I’m not sure what happened with this organization in the end. But I am sure of this: until there is an acknowledgement that branding fundamentally impacts how and what they communicate to their internal and external audiences, there will be a long road to get to where they want to be. 

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I'm a strategic marketing communication consultant who works with premium brands to tell compelling brand stories, guide perception, drive engagement and build loyalty to win hearts and wallets. Find out more about me at, follow me on Twitter @royanndean and Linkedin.

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