“The product,” Mr. Cairns explains, “is what you sell. The brand is what people buy.”  –from The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella

Sometimes I find that the best lessons in life actually come from the works of fiction I so voraciously devour. I don’t know how to sum up the principles of branding more succinctly than in this statement above. There’s not much I can add without mucking up its simplicity, so I’ll keep this brief.

Your brand is what people believe about you (your product, your service, your company, etc.), not what you tell them. What they believe comes from the sum of their experiences, touchpoints, and interactions. Just because YOU say it doesn’t make it so, and what comes out of your advertising department has very little to do with influencing the brand. The things that really count are the conversations people have with your employees, whether your product meets their expectations, how they are treated by your credit department, and most of all, whether you’ve delivered on your promise–whatever that is. When it comes to branding, remember this: people buy what they believe, and actions speak louder than words.

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