In the west brands are used on cattle to identify ownership, using brands ended disputes over who owned which animal since they were for the most part free ranging. The brand also affected auction prices, the buyers would see a specific brand come into the auction ring and know who raised it and thus determine whether or not the animal was from a reputable ranch both in breeding and raising of the animal. Today most people when they thing of branding think of a company and the product they produce or a service they provide. Though the concept is the same, the consumer knows when they see the “brand” whether or not they consider the company reputable and worthy of their money or trust.
Branding today is more that a logo or image, it is a feeling that the consumer gets when they think of a company… the perceived reputation, and the memories that come to mind when they hear of the company and/or there products. Branding is a very strategic method of building awareness and creating customer loyalty, that if done well can lead to the aforementioned feelings, and memories, if done well good feelings and memories. By carefully chosen colors and images the branding of a product can lead to its success. A well branded product will be chosen over the hundreds of other products on the grocery store shelves or chosen over the other hotels on site such as hotels.com. That isn’t enough however, a brand is a story, a story that touches people in away that makes them feel as though their life is going to be improved, their problems solved and their social status raised with the purchase of or staying at etc. a brand when well executed makes the consumer not only feel good themselves but want to share that feeling with others. Lets take a step back from the branding on a single product and look at the branding of a company, a company with a stable of products. Yes, we want all of the feelings and messages and reactions mentioned above… but we want people to have those about the bigger picture. A tricky prospect when we consider what happens if one misstep has an effect on the whole.
Chipotle has been experiencing this ripple in the pond effect for several months and is working hard to recover. A company known for fresh vegetables… a healthy alternative to other “fast food” chains, was taken to its knees when one restaurant at a time began to make hundreds of people sick. How does a company keeps its brand from turning people away after this tragedy? They do it by standing on their original brand! Chipotle closed stores and did the type of deep cleaning that restaurants rarely get after opening there doors. They searched for the source of the food borne illness and in an unprecedented move they closed the resaturates for four hours during lunch for a company wide training on food safety. Chipotle added to their story, their brand their firm commitment, their position of providing healthy food to their customers. In a day-in-age when everyone is trying to figure out their purpose and wanting their chosen companies to have one as well, Chipotle has done a great job throughout these past few months showing that their purpose hasn’t changed and that they stand proudly on it. Without have solid branding that created a ton of followers who were willing to bring others along, Chipotle wouldn’t be in the position they are in today, they could easily be in the position on Blue Bell ice cream who has closed factories, laid of employees and deeply soiled their name and brand.
Thinking back to the west and branded cattle we can see how people can either get behind a brand or turn against one. We expect companies as well as ranches and individuals to live up to the image they put out to the world and nothing is harder to do than repair the image of someone or thing that didn’t have an upstanding image before their down fall. A brand is not just that image, it is what to stand upon and grow from when things don’t go well, it is the spring board for the company to jump from to become great again in the eyes of the public.