What's the Magazine Industry's Brand Identity?
Brands and branding are funny things. They go back further than you might think, but have different meanings to us in media today than originally intended. In the earliest days, artisans would make their mark, or their brand, on their manufactured materials to identify themselves as the maker. This process took an interesting turn later in history in the American Southwest as cattle ranchers put the mark or their brand on their cattle, identifying ownership instead of "makemanship." One of the Old West stories goes so far as to tell us about a gentleman named Maverick who didn't put his brand on the cattle, and since then unbranded cattle were known as mavericks.
Today brands and branding have somewhat different connotations. Now the brand identifies the company that made the product and in most cases the products themselves.
I have said for decades that humans, too, have brands and should always be working on their own branding. As we progress through our corporate careers we should remember that we are marked or branded by the way we regularly display our expertise. Remembering your personal or corporate brand is a strategy that will give you an edge in competitive situations, be they careers or marketplaces.
In the simplest terms a brand is a promise. That promise is either to your customer or your employer. It is a contract of trust. The brand hopefully differentiates you from fellow employees, or it helps explain to the consumer what your company does and why you are superior to the competition. The brand powers perception—the perception that you want the buyer to have.
Is your brand the innovative, plucky maverick in your part of the magazine industry? Or do you rather represent the solid, experienced professional always reliable and steadfast? Does your brand represent the highest quality possible, or a low cost value proposition?