Branding 101: Lessons from a marketing graduate program


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Branding 101: Lessons from a marketing graduate program

What is a brand? The professor who teaches my “Branding Concept” class put it really well: If your organization is a pyramid, your brand is the top piece of that pyramid. As your organization expands its operations, it should continue to follow the guidelines set by the triangle at the top of the pyramid.

Scale your brand choices and keep them consistent.

That lesson can help when making small marketing decisions about brand interpretation, like what swag to give away at an event. For USGBC, it makes more sense to promote our organization on a sustainable tote bag or reusable water bottle, instead of a koozie or pair of sunglasses. That’s an example of how this global brand manifests itself in individual marketing choices. Referencing that top pyramid guide can help you make decisions as detailed as what emoji to use in an email subject line.

Create a positioning statement to clarify your brand.

Need help finding who you are as a brand? Try writing your positioning statement. A positioning statement is an internal document that helps clarify what problem you are solving for customers. What “job” does your brand do for people?

  • For [a target audience, based on needs]
  • Our brand is [frame of reference—category in the consumer’s mind]
  • That provides [3 key benefits]
  • Because [reason to believe]

For USGBC, that might look something like:

  • For professionals in the built environment who need to quantify their environmental impact
  • Our brand is the independent green building certification organization
  • that provides education, verification and guidelines of environmental standards
  • Because we wrote the definition of what is environmentally friendly in buildings and sites

Ultimately, anything your business does can be replicated by some other organization. Your brand is the only thing that cannot be taken or copied. Your reputation is specific to you, and the brand is what people identify you as. Your brand is your identity.

See more on branding from USGBC Studio