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Branding – It’s More Than Just Your USP
by: Karon Thackston
by Karon Thackston © 2002

When you mention the word “branding” most people automatically think of USP (unique selling proposition). The overall – and incorrect – perception of a brand is that it simply consists of the statement you use to define what you do. Slap your USP on every advertising piece that goes out the door and – tah dah – you’re branded! Not even close.

Your brand is created from every single thing you do within your business. Your brand is the all-encompassing collection of business principles, business strategy, sales, customer relations, appearance, attitude, products, services, advertising, copywriting, Web site design, brochures… your entire company.

In order to create a brand that has “staying power”, it must go several levels deep. Consider the Walt Disney Company for a moment. What comes to mind when you think of Walt Disney? Most likely Mickey is first, maybe animated movies, then family-oriented, wholesome, quality, etc. Is all of that just a USP? Definitely not!

When you phone the Walt Disney Company you are greeted by a professional, friendly, helpful person. When you visit one of the Walt Disney World locations, the staff is helpful, the facility is clean, the environment is family-oriented and the accommodations are first class.

What is the end result of all this work? Trust. Your customers learn that they’ll get what they expect every time. They trust what you offer. They have faith in it. They depend on it.

How would Disney be portrayed if all their advertising lead you to believe that they were a highly-focused, quality, family-oriented organization but – when you visited their theme parks – you found rude staff members, rides that didn’t work, food that was inedible and costumed characters that treated your children horribly?

The image of Disney would have fallen to the wayside long ago if they didn’t understand the concept of branding. The brand just wouldn’t have held up. This company knows that your brand must go deep inside your company and radiate through every level. It isn’t just about what you tell your target customers in your ads.

When you consider your brand, ponder these questions:

1. What do we want to be known for?

2. What do we want others to say about us?

3. What is the essence of our organization?

4. Is every department aware of our brand and the image we want to portray?

5. Does everything we do reinforce our brand? (Our staff, physical location, packaging, Web site, advertising, products and services.)

6. When you say the name of our business, what words do others respond with?

Once your brand has been determined - once you have every aspect of your company following in line with the brand – you can focus on your promotional efforts. Without your brand being clearly defined, your marketing plan will most likely come up lacking. However, if you concentrate on perception and reception of your business by your target customers first, your advertising will be more effective and the results will be astounding.

About the Author

Most buying decisions are emotional. Your ad copy should be, too! Karon is Owner and President of KT & Associates who offers targeted copywriting, copy editing & ezine article services. Subscribe to KT & Associates' Ezine "Business Essentials" at or visit her site at


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