What Brand Means

While I think part of the recent turnaround at Sun has to so with their increased acceptance of both Open Source and the Open Source philosophy, a lot has to do with attitude like this. I like getting reminders like that post from Jonathan every once and a while.

The saying goes, “a brand is a promise.” On a personal level, I’ve always felt that statement was incomplete. A promise is the lowest common denominator of a brand – it’s what people expect. Think of your favorite brand, whether search engine or sneaker or coffee shop or free software, and you’ll know what I mean – a brand is an expectation. If you experience anything less, you’re disappointed. A promise seems like table stakes.

But a brand must go beyond a promise. To me, a brand is a cause – a guiding light. For fulfilling expectations, certainly, as well as dealing with the ill-defined and unexpected. It’s what tells your employees how to act when circumstances (and customers) go awry, or well beyond a training course.

What’s a brand?

It’s not a logo, an ad campaign or a money back guarantee. At minimum, it’s a promise that helps to define those items. Beyond that, it’s a cause that gives definition to the ill-defined, that tells you how to deal with the unexpected or the uncomfortable. It’s what motivates you to hire that fellow at the front desk, and to foster his instinct to feel, “Eureka, I found an opportunity to build an evangelist!”

That’s not about money or resources or training or contracts. It’s a cause. One your employees – and more critically, your customers – willingly join.

It’s with a similar attitude that I try to approach LQ every day. Some are surprised to hear that I still personally answer every email that comes in via the contact form. “Isn’t there a lot?” is a popular question. Now, we get hundreds of thousands of visitors… so the amount of mail that comes in substantial. That being said, someone has taken time to contact us. Our main goal has always been to help. They should expect an answer and seeing what comes in gives me a lot of valuable information on how we can improve. You’ll also notice that we’re extremely receptive to feedback. To me, it shouldn’t be any other way. Now, of course we don’t implement every suggestion we get – that’s just not feasible. We do listen to every suggestion though. We did seven years ago and I’ll strive to make sure we do seven years from now. If you ever have any feedback about any site on the LQ network, please don’t hesitate to contact me, be it public ally via this blog or via email (which should be pretty easy to find). Thanks again to both the mods and every LQ member. You make the site what it is.


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