A primary fact that should be at the hearts and minds and behind all the
efforts of every advertiser is that a brand establishes the relationship
between a business and its consumers. Whether you have a strong faithful
relationship or a weak seasonal relationship with your consumers would
depend entirely on your brand and your management and maintenance of its
overall image.

A quick example would be to compare Apple and Microsoft. I?m sure most of us
would agree if I say that Microsoft can be likened to a rather stiff,
purely-business kind of person like your boss, or your calculus professor.
And Apple, on the other hand, can be thought of more as a cool pal with the
hippest gadgets and what-nots with the funniest jokes and wittiest quips.

Both statements on these two companies are neither right nor wrong. Instead
of being objective statements, these are the perceptions that might stand
for the kind of relationship each brand has on the public. They are mostly
feelings towards a certain brand and consequently the business behind it.

Every businessman should know that before the creation of a business name or
symbol, the conceptualization of what perception you desire your business to
have in your consumer?s minds comes first and foremost.

Bring Your Brand To Life

If you notice the examples I cited in the previous paragraph, I tied the
brands to a person to better illustrate the differences between the two
companies. In evaluating, managing and strengthening your brand, this can
prove to be a very effective approach.

What are the basic elements that we use to identify a person? We associate a
person with his eyes, his hair, his laugh, his personality, his talent and
sometimes even an experience we witnessed with that person. Same thing
applies to your brand.

If you ask someone if they know your brand, will they be able to pinpoint
the colors present in your logo
, the icons you used, the message or slogan tied with it or will
they share an experience they had with your business?

Answers to these questions help you draw a picture of how your brand is
perceived by the public. You can then use this to compare it with the
conceptualized perception you came up with earlier on.

Identifying Strengths and Diminishing Weaknesses

Now that you have breathed life into your brand, you then have a more visual
and moving representation of your brand in your mind and no longer just a
symbol with some colors and a tagline. To be able to better identify weak
spots and strengths, you can break down Mr. Brand into these parts: his
skill, his appearance, his personality.

Mr. Brand has skills. Being a business owner, of course you know he has
skills. But stepping into the shoes of the consumer, if you look at Mr.
Brand, would you know instantly that he is credible enough and reliable
enough for a task he claims to be good at? Would you trust that he has
skills. We know a geek when we see one. We know a jock when we see one. Will
people know or at least feel that your business is good at what you are
doing when they see or hear your brand?

TThe appearance of your brand depends mostly on the performance of the
overall appeal of your business logo,
the colors you used and the slogan you attached to it if any. Think of it
this way, going back to your little mascot, does Mr. Brand look like he can
fit in and stand out in a gala with your competitors? Or will he appear
meek, amateur and feeble and eventually slink away to a dark corner
neglected and then forgotten? Is your brand tied with the visual
representation that can stick to people?s minds even without associating
your symbol with an experience or a commercial? Is it innovative and
representative of your business and what you offer? Do you see room for
evolution, reinvention and growth if the opportunity for expansion presents
itself? If you answered yes to all these questions, then you?re on the right

Going to personality, it may sound weird but images do have personalities.
Compare the image of a fork with a flower. See the difference? Same thing
goes for your brand. Whether you have a brand with a strong personality or a
weak one depends on the initial impression people get by looking at it and
remembering your ad history.

For instance, someone can say ?I think Mac is cool because they have cool
icons with cool vector ads for the iPod I remember seeing relentlessly
everywhere I go.? Right here, we introduced another factor important in
establishing a strong brand. Consistency. Consistency develops not just
recall but a stronger personality.

In this aspect of your brand, we combine, the visual and sentimental appeal
with the emotions triggered in the recollection of your past ads. If you
showed a consistent theme, mood and overall message all throughout your ad
campaigns, you have established a stronger more prominent personality and
all your color printing efforts have paid off.

It is not that easy developing a brand, triggering your desired impression,
or the reputation that will eventually shower you with the big bucks. But if
you start on the right foot, and pay attention to all these three aspects of
your brand, success is a definite possibility. It is pretty fun too!

Kaye Z. Marks is a writer and an observer. She is continuously
fascinated with the developments in
commercial color printing technologies, which greatly help in the
marketing and advertising campaigns of small to medium businesses.