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Have you heard the one about: BRANDING?


Search key elements of branding on the Internet and you’ll find pages of different interpretations sprinkled with uninteresting marketing terms and confusing descriptions. Each brand strategist will tell you something different. And, no two experts can agree on the terminology or which tactics are the most vital when developing a successful brand. Here are just a handful of components you’ll find on the Internet: 

Brand Image, Brand Character…(insert ‘Brand’ in front of these terms and try to stay awake), Experience, Story, Culture, Personality, Vision, Messaging, Essence, Communication, Promise, Perception, Values, Voice, Positioning, Differentiation, Extension, Intelligence, Emotion, Soul, Consistency, Image, Identity, Purpose, Expression, Equity, and many more. It’s no wonder that most business owners have a hard time wrapping their heads around what branding is.

If you haven’t drifted off by now, let’s get our story started.


It’s a crisp fall day in September. You and your friends take a country drive along your favorite wine trail.

It must be a sign

You pass through a quaint town, spot the winery sign, and recognize the logo. You’ve seen it on a display at the liquor store, on wine labels, in a TV ad, and on a wine trail website. You remember their tagline, “Wine by Design”. More importantly, you associate the winery name and logo with a pleasant memory and emotion: “We served this at our anniversary party and I loved it.” Your past relationship with the wine, the repeated experience seeing the logo, hearing the messaging, drinking and loving the wine – the entire experience evokes a positive feeling and creates anticipation.   


A promise is a promise

The winery is located in a well-kept, rustic barn. From the looks of the outside, you anticipate that the inside will have a warm, friendly ambience. The rustic chic vibe does not disappoint – it is just as you imagined. Without even taking a sip of wine, the brand has already begun to deliver on its promise.

The magic continues...

In the tasting room, you immerse yourself in the ambience of the rustic décor, the smell of barn wood, and the aroma of wine. There is a subtle sophistication to the winery, from the shelves of wine, to the displays in the gift area. You notice people smiling and chatting it up with the servers. You approach the bar excited to discover new tastes. A woman in a branded t-shirt welcomes you and cheerfully asks you what type of wine you’d like to try. 

You've been labeled

Sitting on the shelves on the back wall are wines with different labels. Some show funky cartoon characters in a swimming pool drinking wine. You think, “Looks like hipster wine to me.” Another wine label depicts a woman on a picnic with a glass of wine in her hand and little butterflies hovering overhead. You’ve already decided, “Probably too sweet.” Then, you spot it – the label with the beautiful watercolor illustration of grapes on a vine done in an array of purples and greens. And low and behold, it’s on a bottle of your favorite wine – Cabernet Sauvignon. You try the Cab and a few more reds, but since you’re a bit of a risk taker, you also choose to taste the hipster wine.


Do you guys deliver?

You try the Merlot that you served at your party – the one that brought you to that winery in the first place. Ahhh. Just like you remembered. Then you taste the wine with the artistic watercolor label that spoke to you and are pleased that the artwork matched the flavor – elegant, and artfully crafted. The other varietals were just as satisfying. Going forward, you will associate the winery with the crisp fall day you spent enjoying wine and making memories with friends. 

Sale, or no sale?

You try six wines that afternoon, and decide that you’ll be taking home the wine you had at the party and the artful Cabernet you’ve just discovered. Inspired by the positive experience, you head straight to the gift shop and notice unique bottled sauces sold under the winery’s brand. Your overall positive experience with the wine instilled trust, so you purchase a few products with confidence. Your experience with the brand has resulted in multiple sales for the winery.  


Your new part-time job

Once home, you log into Facebook to upload photos of your winery adventure. You rave about your new favorite winery and all it has to offer. Your friends respond and someone suggests that your group plans a trip next month to the winery. Friends begin sharing your post on their own Facebook pages with an open invitation to their friends. Before long, there’s a party bus involved and a snack signup sheet for the road trip. My friend, you’ve just become a brand evangelist. How on earth did they manage to do enlist you as a sales person? Branding!


We’ve only touched on the WHAT of branding. Look for future articles that explain some of the WHYs and HOWs. Until our next encounter, please pass along this “Have you heard the one about…” article.

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