Noting a Few Truths about Branding
The best name, logo, ads, and efforts can't compensate for a weak brand. But what's a brand? And how do you build a strong one? Here's a little insight into the golden rules of great branding.
Branding starts with positioning
Your position is the birthplace of your brand. It's the unique space in the consumer's mind that only your offering can fill. You need to determine and stake your position before you develop the brand that will live there.
Positioning is the process of finding an unfulfilled want or need in the consumer's mind and addressing it with a distinctively different and ideally suited offering.
Remember these rules about positioning:
- Your position must be open. Otherwise, you'll need to dislodge an existing brand — and that's big and costly challenge to tackle.
- Your position must be based on a unique point of difference that's believable and truly attractive to consumers.
- Your point of difference must be one that you can deliver with such consistency that every experience with your brand reminds customers of why they chose and remain loyal to your brand.
Consistency builds brands
After you're clear about what you stand for, you're ready to deliver your product, promise, and brand experience with total consistency. Doing so puts the odds strongly in your favor that you'll win out over brands that shift with the wind, regardless of how beautifully they've polished their identities or their marketing materials.
Create a consistent brand that customers can count on by
- Displaying a consistent look
- Projecting a consistent tone
- Delivering a consistent level of quality, as demonstrated through consistent communications and consistent products and services
- Being consistently true to the heart of your brand
People power brands
Brands are made or broken by human encounters that either advance or erode brand promises. Passionate employees and passionate customers — in that order — power great brands. If you develop brand understanding, enthusiasm, and commitment within your organization, customer understanding, enthusiasm, and commitment will follow.
A great brand name, logo, promise, and communication program are essential ingredients for brand success, but you also need brand champions, beginning with the leader of your organization and including every single person who affects the consumer's experience with your offering.
Brand names unlock brand images
Your brand is a set of memories that's uncovered when people see or hear your name.
The right name establishes your brand from the day it's announced, and it grows with your business and your vision as you reach into new market areas, new geographic regions, and even new product areas.
A great brand name should
- Reflect the brand character of your business
- Describe your offering and convey an association to the meaning of your brand
- Convey or be consistent with your brand promise
- Be easy and pleasant to say and unique and memorable so that, over time, it appreciates into an asset that you can harvest through premium pricing, licensing, or even a sale to a new owner
Naming your brand is the most challenging, momentous, and necessary phase in the process of branding.
Brands need to start and stay relevant
To win and keep a slot in the consumer's mind, your brand needs to begin and remain credible, competitive, current, and relevant to customer wants, needs, and interests. That means you need to tune in to market conditions, consumer preferences, and cultural trends not only when you first establish your brand but also on a regular basis as your brand ages.
Markets change, and businesses change. When they do, brands that remain stuck in times past pay a high price in terms of credibility and competitiveness.
Brands are valuable assets
In the world's most successful businesses, the brand is often the most valuable single asset. When companies with great brands are sold, the value of the brand often accounts for as much as half of the sale price. Plus, brand value translates into everyday economic benefits, including
- Premium pricing and reduced price sensitivity
- Lower costs of sales and promotions
- Higher market share
- Reduced threat of competition
- Greater employee satisfaction
- Higher recognition by consumers, industry leaders, media, investors, and analysts