Demystifying the Brand Building Process

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Branding just isn't what it used to be. Once a combination of taglines, logos, and advertisements, a good brand is no longer a constellation of siloed entities—it's a carefully constructed, holistic image that permeates every facet of a company's image. What does it take to build a successful brand? Denise Lee Yohn, author of What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles That Separate the Best from the Rest, shared her insights on creating an outstanding brand from the inside out with Associate Editor Maria Minsker.

CRM: In your book, you focus on the idea of brand-as-business. What does this mean and what makes this management approach unique?

Denise Lee Yohn: Brand-as-business is a management approach that, simply put, means there's no difference between your brand and your business. Often what I find is that people tend to think of a brand as a logo, a name, or a tagline, but those are merely expressions of your brand. Your brand is the set of fundamental values and attributes that define the unique value that you create for customers and the way you engage everyone involved with your business. As a result, your brand is not something separate from your business—it is your business. When you adopt a brand-as-business management approach, you are building both your brand and your business at the same time.

CRM: This idea of brand-as-business comes together through your seven brand-building principles. Can you highlight a few?

Lee Yohn: The first principle, "great brands start inside," means that great brands start brand-building by cultivating a strong corporate culture inside their organization. In other words, culture is really what determines whether your brand is going to be embraced by employees and stakeholders. Another principle, which can sound surprising, is that "great brands never have to give back." This idea came from my observation that corporate social responsibility [CSR] is becoming a very popular notion in business circles. Most companies engage in specific activities in order to give back to their community, like a fundraiser for some green

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