What Frequent Flyers Know About Branding That Others Don’t

By Jennifer Holland, Certified Brand Strategist, Holland People+Brands

While at the airport the other day, I saw some of the best examples of good branding.

No, it wasn’t in all the airport banners, advertisements, and point-of-purchase displays (most of which were bad examples, actually.)

It was at, of all places, the luggage terminal.

I bet you’ve had this experience before if you’ve paid attention: lots of bags all look alike. People pick up a bag, look at the tag, see it’s not theirs, and put it back on the carousel.

It’s also very common for people to walk away with the wrong bag. The airport has signs warning travelers about that.

This never happens to me, however, because my luggage is a hard shell copper colored suitcase. I also have a decent sized Paris themed luggage tag with the Eiffel Tower on it that makes my suitcase stand out more when it’s on the carousel. It’s personal to me – and only me – and identifies this piece of luggage as mine and no one else’s.

In a word, my luggage has my brand on it, while everyone else’s looks the same.

Smart travelers do different things to make their bags stand out. They use unique tags, colorful designs, decorative patterns, or distinctive accents for their luggage.

Smart businesses understand this behavior, too.

It’s the same principle you should implement for your business in the marketplace. You absolutely must differentiate yourself from all the other “bags” out there. Otherwise, you’ll be advertising unintentionally for your competition; your prospect will make the wrong selection.

When I work with clients, it’s my goal to help them create a brand promise in the minds of their prospects that’s different from any other product or service.

The reason so many brands fail is they look like every other brand out there. They do this because they think they are widening their base and broadening their appeal. The truth is, they are instead undermining the power of their brand.

This strategy will hurt sales sooner rather than later.

Building a strong, unique brand naturally leads to strong, unique marketing. All your advertising, packaging, and sales promotions will be created through a powerful brand lens that works.

That’s why it is so important to see your entire company –especially your employees – as your brand.

Ultimately, your prospect will decide what they believe your brand stands for, and every touchpoint your customer has with your people influences that decision.

Yes, after all the hard work in branding your company, you still don’t own your brand. Your customers do.

Your challenge is to influence their decision by communicating the qualities that make you different from all the other choices out there – all the other bags on the conveyor belt, so to speak.

Brand management is managing those influences, and it starts at the top of the organization.

That means you.

Go forth, and brand!