THE BLOG
11/18/2014 02:15 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2015

What Is Branding? Not Reality Television

I will be the first to admit that I am a reality television junkie. I am overly obsessed with regional home engineer divas flying on a bout of production-induced reality - you catch my drift? Obsessed! Yet, as wowed as I am by the nail-biting drama and over-the-top lifestyles that come with these types of pop-up entertainment, I have a major bone to pick.

We oft hear in these name-brand filled episodes, "I need to watch my reputation and protect my brand." While table-tossing and weave-tugging flies one's reputation into a certain arena, the actual work put into a brand takes more than being on a hit reality show or incessantly repeating the word while cameras are rolling and mics are hot - industry speak for: while everyone can hear you and see you.

For over a decade I have enjoyed being intimately involved in assisting a broad gamut of National and Hawaii-based clients in identifying and developing their brand.

A brand is a key factor in the building blocks of your identity - whether corporate, product based or in a celebrity's case, personal. Your brand is the direct result of how your consumers or admirers interpret your total output.

Your brand is not a logo, a website, your social media handles, your product or your image. While these examples contribute to the sum of your brand, individually, these facets are not a definition of a brand.

When we watch these reality television celebrities pull weaves like a healthy heap of potatoes from rich soil, or toss tables like dirty laundry, or banish fellow co-star archenemies from posh Upper East Side residences, the immediate comfort phrase sung all too often by this choir of socialites is, "I must protect my brand." It is comedic relief at best to surmise that being on a show qualifies these individuals from having a brand. A brand takes time and an earnest effort to build.

Whether personal, corporate or product based, the function of a brand is to assess a holistic view of your products, company or yourself as understood by those you intend to reach. Your brand should be a barometer of the alignment of everything you are saying, doing, selling, preaching and targeting.

Before you engage your product or corporate identity in a new venture, product campaign or rebrand, or perhaps you are contemplating a role on a reality television show, these questions may assist you in developing keen insights as to how your actions may affect your intended market and overall intentions:

1. What type of client or what kind of market do you intend to influence?

This is a key first step to focus the potential of your brand to a given market. Identifying the consumer through intelligence gathering from various sources includes - but not limited to - consumers markets, generational identifiers and insights, cultural drivers and a host of other mechanisms that allows you to hone your product or image base.

Soul-search!

2. What value does your brand offer to your market?

While this may be more of a technical piece of determining your brand and its potential, this question will help to delineate lines between your brand and that of your competition.

Question!

3. How can I best utilize innovative techniques?

After gathering key observations and fundamental insights from the previous questions, you can start to establish a clear path to launching effective brand strategies. Being innovative is the defining factor in setting yourself apart from the competition. No competition? Innovation shows you are ahead of the curb, a trend setter.

Innovate!

4. What story are you telling?

Your story is important. It is equally important to envision how the story will be told - graphics, logos, social media presence; all are methods for telling your story. Prepare your storytellers - look inward and prepare your staff and leadership to tell the same story. After all of the hard work of defining your brand, now spend the time to determine how you will engage.

Engage!

So maybe reality shows are not the best place to build a brand - but many, many kudos to those who have used their instant fame and these addicting shows as a stepping stone to building a brand. Not many will have the opportunity to have such a platform - if ever given the opportunity, make the best use of such a stage.

Always remember in the building of a solid brand and presence: soul-search, question, innovate and engage!