When it comes to developing and maintaining a brand in our digital-centric, customer-focused era, savvy marketers recognize they need a lot more than a great logo and slogan to put on business cards or a storefront. As customer expectations have accelerated, and social media has made it possible for one person to complain to thousands — or even millions — about a bad product or experience, the concept of branding has expanded considerably.

Here’s a great example. Untold marketing specialists have praised Nike for the simplicity of its corporate slogan, “Just Do It,” and the simple swoosh graphic that accompanies it. Indeed, it speaks to Nike’s customers — athletes and casual runners alike — who sometimes need that extra bit of encouragement. The swoosh element is fluid and graceful, and it loosely resembles the winged shoe used in association with Mercury, the “winged messenger” and Greek god of speed. (Automotive giant Goodyear nabbed the shoe itself for its logo, long ago.)

Nike’s slogan, coined in the late 1980s by an advertising agency, has even become part of common vernacular. I have heard an untold number of parents, friends, and spouses tell a hesitant child, companion or partner, “Just do it!” And usually, they do.

Just Do It… Right

Nike’s world-renowned slogan and symbol are examples of two golden rules in branding (and all marketing and promotion, for that matter): quality and consistency. These two concepts are exemplified in many ways — ensuring your messages are well crafted and appealing to your market (quality) and having a consistent “voice” with which you speak to customers (consistency).

Quality and consistency are also invaluable in your customer service — especially in how you handle unpleasant situations. Nike recently learned that lesson when a Duke University basketball star experienced a knee injury after one of his Nike shoes blew out on the court. (We won’t get into the details — suffice it to say that it didn’t help Nike’s brand.)

Branding is a total package of all those elements — it’s everything about you. Marketing, advertising and promotion are crucial to build and maintain brand awareness. Social media has become an increasingly important contributor, as well. It also enables companies to engage with their customers directly to hear their desires and respond to their comments.

As Nike found out, branding is also about ensuring your customers trust you and believe you care about their welfare. In 2014, Inc. Magazine published a great article about maintaining a brand, and two of the top three missteps were “overpromise, then underdeliver” and “skimp on customer support.” (Number one was “heap praise on your own brand.” No one likes arrogance.)

The media were harsh to Nike when this incident happened, but they also reported that Nike promptly apologized and reassured its customers that the problem was isolated. In other words, Nike made a very sound branding move, and the media rewarded them for it. Had Nike tried to brush the issue aside, the outcome likely would have been very different.

In summary, your brand is your essence. It’s how you represent yourself in the media, in marketing, through your promotions, and via your products. It’s also how effectively you respond to news, both good and bad. It’s no longer just a slogan or a storefront sign. In a 24/7 world where information travels at the speed of light, branding is everything.

This post courtesy of MMC Content Manager Jennifer Farwell.