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What Is Branding? - A Panel Discussion


I recently became the organizer of the New York Branding Meetup and we had our first event on October 26, 2017 in the Shareablee office in NYC. My intention was to have a educational panel discussion on the simplistic yet robust question “What Is Branding?”

In general, branding is an abstract and elusive term that people use liberally without really understanding what it means. Some people think it’s a logo, others might think it’s the actual product. It does encompass these things…and so much more.

The panelists consisted of: Sarah Hermalyn, Brand Strategist; Elizabeth Talerman, Instructor at the SVA Graduate Studies in Branding and founder of Nuclear Strategy; and James Heaton, CEO of the Tronvig Group.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the meetup:

Over 100 definitions of branding. Sarah Hermalyn wrote a paper during her Graduate Branding Studies at SVA on the “100 Definitions of Branding” by reaching out to experts in this field. She explained that the answers she received were quite diverse but that the common theme was “that you don’t define your brand, the people that are using it or talking about it are the ones that define your brand.”

Let’s clarify branding. Elizabeth Talerman expressed that, as brand practitioners, we help clients create clarity around their brand definition—yet as shepherds of this field, we fail in having a common definition of what branding is (case in point with 100 different ways of defining branding). Branding comprises of 2 main elements: intentional differentiation + emotional connectivity that makes that differentiation valuable or value producing.

One definition…please. The panel recognized the need to have one specific brand definition so that everyone can discuss branding with the same foundation and understanding. Here is the working definition of branding moving forward for our group:

The importance of strategy. James Heaton shared how a brand should push people away as much as it pulls people towards your brand. You don’t have to be for everyone and be everything—put your foot down and make decisions on who you want to be and who you want to connect with. Strategy is about making choices and all choices are eliminations.

What’s really the problem? I also chimed in the panel discussion and explained that a lot of seemingly marketing issues are in actuality not primarily marketing related—but instead stem from a branding issue. You need to start right, right from the start: first with the right brand strategy, then content strategy, and finally with marketing strategy. In other words, if your brand strategy is off, which takes into account the customers’ emotional connectivity to your product, then your marketing can be greatly misaligned in terms of its messaging—consequently, not resonating with your audience.

Please find a video below with my business partner of the CoreConnect Conference, Brooke Vines, where she and I talk about the main takeaways of this meetup.

A big thank you to Shareablee for providing the space for this event and CoreConnect for sponsoring the wine and networking hour!

Please join us for our next NY Branding Meetup here.

Please join us for our next NY Branding Meetup here.

#branding #busines #advertising #digital #marketing