To create abrand, a truly great brand is one of the most powerful ways a business candifferentiate it business, products or services from its competitors. Notonly will a strong brand make customers sit up and take notice but it willallow your business to charge a premium over its competitor, build customer loyalty, drive sales andaccelerate product differentiation in the market.
Your brand isn’t just an add-on to beconsidered as and when. It should be right at the centre of your business,affecting everything you do and simultaneously reflecting the sum of everythingyou do. It is, in essence, both the cause and effect of all your actions
First of all, let’s be clear whatwe mean by a brand. A brand is a promise of a particular experience that hasbeen created through the sum of various elements including the logo andtagline, the brand personality, promise, messaging and the visual elements.
The process of branding isbuilding that brand, all the way from designing the logo, doing research into the name, working through the attributes, doing the focus group work – brandingis part of the business you are building. Much like a Method actor livesand breathes his or her character, so too should a business live and breatheits brand if it wants to convince customers. Creating a brand, like anindividual personality, is based on a set of behaviours and characteristics –with the strength and consistency of these impacting on its effectiveness.
Branding is one of the mosteffective ways to separate your business from the rest of the market and builda loyal customer base but it also has many other benefits at the very leasthelping you to establish and grow your business among many other benefits.
Without the sense of purpose abrand gives you, how do you know if the direction you’re heading in is theright one for your business, or if the decisions you’re making are in keepingwith the ideals of your business and customers? The decisions you make and thedirections you choose can reinforce or completely undermine what your companystands for.
Nike’s co-founder, PhilipKnight, once put it like this: “We wanted Nike to be the world’s best sportsand fitness company. Once you say that, you have a focus. You don’t end upmaking wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.”
Every business needs to innovateits approach, products and services to grow. But a brand provides the DNA forthat growth, rather than inhibiting it. Your brand is the seed that grows theplant of your growing business. The plant may have different aspects to it –like products and services that change with the times. But they’re stillunderpinned by the DNA in that seed that is your brand. Your core values willalways be visible, as will the consistent customer experience you provide.Growth without a brand in mind can see your customers desert you in theirdroves.
Your brand is the focus thatkeeps you building a solid, loyal customer base. Because when you consider yourbrand in everything you do, you’re essentially asking yourself the question:“How will this product [or service] impact on our customers’ lives? How will itmake them feel differently than competitor products on the market?” Theseconsiderations are fundamental to the success of your business, which is whybranding must be considered from the word go.
Your brand gives you the abilityto stand out from the crowd, particularly in competitive markets. How well youdeliver on your brand promises and strengthen your brand through every area ofyour business can help make or break your business reputation. And there arefew things more valuable to both maintaining existing customers and attractingnew ones than a good, solid reputation.
Every possible contact yourbusiness has with a new or existing customer should enforce your brand values.That doesn’t mean you need to be shoving what you stand for down yourcustomers’ throats every time you answer the phone. It just means the way youinteract with customers should be thought through and in keeping with yourvision and purpose.
Every time you communicate with acustomer or prospect, your brand should be felt – whether this is through youradvertising and promotional activities or customer-facing communications. Yourbrand is your DNA so make sure it works its way upwards through every layer ofyour organisation.
Coming up with a name and a logoat a minimum requires a huge amount of effort and research, the whole processof creating a brand is even more complex and time-consuming. So in order tohelp here’s a list of the things you should be aware of and consider whencreating and building your brand.
Everything you do, or what anyoneworking with you does, will reflect the brand. If you solve problems fast, savepeople money, do what you say you will listen to your customers, etc., all ofthis will be translated in their minds as what your business represents. When Iwork with any start-up, the last thing on my mind is building the brand. First,I want to know what they do differently and make sure that every form of communication and interaction with the outside world is consistent –tone, messages, look and feel of the website, fact sheets, logo, etc. This is apain and can be tricky but does not cost a fortune to do and is, in essence,how you build your brand.
What feeling is your product or service going to givethe consumer? What is the desire or need it will fulfil? It might be the desirefor freedom, safety, confidence or success, or something completely different.Understanding your audience is key – their age, sex, ethnicity, income,education level and locale. What motivates them to buy? How do they think?
Imagine you don’t know a thing about your company.Now tell yourself the key message you want customers to hear. Do you get aclear picture in your mind of the benefit to you as the customer? If not, whynot? Have another look at your proposition and whittle it down to whatdistinguishes you. Is it price? Quality? Innovation? Or something else.
To create a brand that is successful requires you tounderstand the values of your target audience and focus your offering on thesecustomers. Trying to be all things to all people will only dilute and confusethe strength and message of your brand.
Effectivebrand positioning and brand promise
The brand positioning is how the brand is perceivedin the context of competitive alternatives. Brand positioning needs to remainconsistent throughout all your marketing efforts, or customers will becomeconfused. The brand promise addresses customers’ expectations about a productor service. Examples of brand promises include Coke’s, “To inspire moments ofoptimism and uplift” and Google’s, “To provide access to the world’sinformation in one click”.
Keepingyour brand real
If you want people to buy into your brand, make itbelievable. Instead of claiming perfection, claim something more unique, justifiableand in keeping with your brand. Again, think of your company as a person. Whatkind of person goes around claiming perfection? More than likely someone youwouldn’t necessarily want to associate with or be
Creating abrand is about more than just a catchy name – it is about creating a wholeidentity for your business and the products or services it sells. Once you’veanswered some or all of questions above and have some clarity of what you wantyour brand to me its time to start creating some branding elements, not least aname, logo and visual identity.