Branding is a process, and just like any process, there is a beginning. Branding is core to any business plan; it’s the touchstone on which decisions are made; therefore, it’s an integral part of what the business does (the mission) and where the business aspires to go (the vision).
It should also influence how the company serves its employees, its customers, its shareholders and its community. When each of these constituents clearly understands the brand’s promise and the business delivers on those promises through behavior and messaging, a loyal customer base is formed. That customer base is connected by the emotional experience shared when all touchpoints are working in harmony and the brand image is solidified.
At its core, a brand is a commitment to deliver on a set of promises. These promises—or pillars in business-plan vernacular— serve as the guardrail and barometer for each decision. Consider one such promise, the “Whatever/Whenever” button on the guestroom phone at a W Hotel. That button is a promise that as long as the request is moral and ethical, the W team will deliver what the guest desires. It doesn’t mean it’s free, mind you, but stories of pressing a suit at 2 a.m. or finding a replacement for a lost engagement ring on a Sunday are legendary and clearly show the commitment to what the W brand stands for.