What The Hell Is A "Brand" Anyway? Part 2

In Part 1, I talked about how a brand is simply what people think of when they think of you. It's important to note that I didn't say "what you WANT people to think of when they think of you." That's because–and this is important– you don't get to decide what your brand is, the audience does. That's right, folks. You are NOT in control. You can (and should) try to influence it through your music (or products/services), messaging, design, photos, pricing, events, charity work, publicity and so forth, but ultimately the audience will decide for themselves what your brand represents. And that is exactly why the two biggest ideas in building a strong brand are CONSISTENCY and DISCIPLINE. The more you reinforce the same key messages the better the chance that people will remember and believe them.

Not only will people decide for themselves, but it will vary from person to person, even with the best brands. Look at Apple, probably the most consistent and disciplined large company in the world. Depending on who you ask, they are either a company that makes technology easy to use through great design and intuitive software (the message they want you take home) or they are a style-over-substance bully that overcharges for their products (Steve might not agree with that assessment). Both positions are born of their owners' experience through some combination of using the products, price points, newspaper and magazine articles, Apple's ads and the opinions and experiences of their friends. Two totally opposite opinions. One brand. That's life.

In the end, not everyone will agree on what your brand represents. And that's okay. With smart, consistent, disciplined work, you have a good chance to get the ones who will listen to tell the story you want them to tell. And that is the mark of a great brand.