August 7, 2021

A brand is something you can feel

Written by
Robert Cornish
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A brand is something you can feel

What is a brand?

I’ve been obsessed with brands since I was a little kid. I remember being 7 or 8 and seeing my first pair of Nike Airs on some kids' feet. Instantly lusting for a pair. For whatever reason, I've always been highly observant of things and always paid close attention to brands and branding. When I was 6 I found out about Ralph Lauren and asked my mom if I could get a polo and she responded with “who?”

When I was 13 I cut out logos of brands I loved and thought looked cool and sewed them to my San Jose Sharks hat (a new hockey brand/franchise at the time) literally wearing a collage of brands around. (I still have that hat)

A brand to me is a feeling. It’s something you can sense or perceive.

But all too often there are branding people who really have no business with that title who simply reduce it down to logos and fonts. It’s a shame really. I've observed a lot of folks over the years who have brand-related titles or work on the brand but aren’t really brand people.

A brand is something you know when you see it. Something feels like the brand.

It shows up in shots. Photos. Video content captures it. Ads represent it. The product extends it. The people live it through the culture. The founder is it. And the customers help embrace and extend it.

It’s not typography but that certainly can play a role in the feel.

When you see anything Disney — I’m sure you can feel it. You know it feels Disney. It has that thing about it.

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Seeing and walking into an Apple store or opening a new iPhone delivers the brand experience.

Nike. Porsche. Ralph Lauren — they’ve all accomplished this over the years.

If you really want brand to happen — it must permeate every touchpoint and show up in every tiny detail. People must be able to feel it. That includes your customers and your people and it must be an authentic experience, not just packaging.

Why go to such an extent? Is it worth it?

Because it can transform the company from good to great. And there are so many goods and so few greats.

Build a brand you can feel. Map every single experience point both externally and internally. From products, people, vision, values, core message, mission, customer experience and touchpoints, logos and locations, sounds, public opinion, training, culture, processes, and yes typography.

Put your heart into it and build one of the greats. Care about every detail. Not because you can monetize it but because it’s the path to greatness.

— Robert

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