Can we talk about branding? A term that gets thrown around quite a bit, be it “personal branding” or “corporate branding,” it can often feel a little like pornography (it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it).

You know the names of those companies that have come to define great branding – Apple, Coke, Nike – and there are no lack of blogs, books and experts with opinions on why branding is critical to your organization.

As consumers, we all experience the impact of branding everyday. If you’ve ever paid more for two seemingly identical products, visited a store where you know you will pay more for the same selection, or felt stronger or faster because of the logo on your t-shirt – you have been influenced by great branding.

When branding hits the stratosphere people want to be a part of the company’s story or take a part of that story home.

As a communications professional, we strive to emulate those branding superstars in our day-to-day to lives. But how often do we really get to feel the impact of our efforts?

The power of branding first hit home for me many years ago when a listener to the Manic Mommies podcast chose to pay over $25 for a long sleeve t-shirt with the logo imprinted on it. Before my marketing sensibilities kicked in, I thought “she could get a much better quality, less expensive, shirt at her local Target.”

But of course that’s the point isn’t it? Our listener wasn’t looking for just any old long sleeve shirt – she was looking to be part of the Manic Mommies story. She identified herself with our group and our message, and wanted to world to know through something as simple as a t-shirt.

More recently, I witnessed one of those stratospheric branding moments. After three fabulous days with over 150 listeners and friends in Savannah, one of our guests asked me for the 6′ vinyl banner which had been displayed throughout the weekend. Despite not knowing how she was going to get it home, and probably not having a husband who wanted to hang a vinyl banner in their rec room, she wanted to take home a piece of Manic Mommies and the Escape.

It’s moments like these that I can point to when asked to define branding, because while it’s hard to explain you know it when you see it.