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The Essence of a Brand Mantra

As branding experts, we have developed our own vocabulary for what we do and how we help organizations define and present themselves to consumers. We use terminology like “brand architecture,” “platform,” “positioning,” “promise,” “proof point,” “personality,” “identity” and “tag line” to describe how we create, communicate and control the attributes of a brand. An important but often overlooked step in the process of building or revitalizing a brand is the development of a brand mantra.

An organization’s brand is owned by those who experience it—through communication channels and actual experiences. Therefore, it is important to start all branding processes with research—uncovering the benefits that an organization provides through its products, services and experiences—because it helps brands differentiate themselves from competitors. As a result of the research, key words are identified that express the position and promise of the brand, both backed by proof points.

Many branding (or rebranding) development exercises move from the research and discovery phase to brand articulation—completing the brand platform by identifying specific words and visuals that will represent the brand to stakeholders and consumers (i.e., the personality, identity and tag line). However, a rigorous branding process will insert a development phase between the discovery and articulation phases, during which a brand mantra will be established. This important step includes finding the symbols, short phrases and visuals that encapsulate the competitive frame of reference, points of difference and benefits that directionally define the organization’s brand.

The brand mantra also helps direct the manner in which an organization systematically structures and names the sub-brands within its portfolio. Typically, the brand structure, or architecture, falls within one of three major categories: monolithic, where the corporate name is used on all products and services offered by the organization; endorsed, where all sub-brands are linked to the overall brand by either a verbal or visual endorsement; or freestanding, where individual product and service brands are powerfully promoted.

When building a new brand or refreshing an existing one, follow a systematic process that starts with discovery and research. Then, develop a brand mantra to inform how your brand will be articulated to internal stakeholders and the outside world. After you have finalized your mantra, it’s easier to construct the outward expressions of your brand, including a name, mark and colors. Following this process enables you to produce a brand that creates value and influence with current and prospective customers. It will also accelerate the success of your business—after appropriately socializing and managing it—well into the future.

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