Logos. Slogans. Websites. Marketing materials. Individually, these are just some great communications tools. But together, they become the basic building blocks of your brand.

What is a brand exactly? It’s an intangible asset that conveys the unique story, mission, vision, culture, etc. of a business or organization. Those that take the time and effort to establish their brands can distinguish themselves from competitors, be easily remembered and recognized, and gain customer loyalty.

New or emerging companies have an opportunity that longstanding businesses do not – a chance to define their brand just as their business, product or service is introduced to the marketplace. Strong key messages can be crafted and an exciting visual identity developed to set the tone for the brand and guide communications efforts at its launch and for years to come.

TOMS‎ is a great example of an emerging company effectively seizing this opportunity. Since its inception, TOMS hasn’t been known for its fashionable footwear, but rather recognized as a revolutionary for-profit company that focuses on non-profit work. This reputation came about because the “One for One” brand was inspired by the company’s sustainable business model.

A solid brand can stand the test of time, but remember it’s not always a lasting thing. A brand can and should be revaluated and refreshed as a business or organization grows and evolves. Some situations demand that established companies reinvent themselves, while other businesses simply choose to change – sometimes for better (successfully), others for worse (unintentionally).

Well-known and popular retailer JCPenney underwent a brand overhaul just a few years ago. Though it was the CEO’s goal to introduce a new brand and fresh product for the modern JCP shopper, consumers weren’t on board and sales decreased. The hiring of another CEO to resolve this identity crisis didn’t help much either, for some still question if the retail chain can survive. It just goes to show that rebranding is always an option, but not always the best option.

No matter the situation, every business or organization wants and needs to tell its story. Establishing a unique and recognizable brand identity will ensure consistent communications that share the value of your products or services and ultimately increase brand awareness. And who wouldn’t want that sort of recognition?