In a previous post, The Importance Of Branding: Part 1, defined branding and discussed its importance to marketers – brand strategy. Now let’s outline what you need to do to establish and maintain a successful brand.
The first step in creating a brand is developing a brand strategy. This is a difficult and involved process, but one that’s critical to developing your brand identity. Forging ahead without a brand strategy is like building a skyscraper without a blueprint.
Once you have your brand strategy, here are five points to keep in mind as you execute it.
Be clear. Can you explain what your company is in 15 words or less? For example, “We are the largest fitness club in California” or “We insure more homes than anyone.” If you can’t define your brand in 15 words, and do it in a way that is meaningful to your customers, you lack brand clarity. Dan Wieden, cofounder of the ad agency that made Nike a household name, says that brands are verbs. Nike exhorts. IBM solves. Tide cleans. Once you know what your brand does – and hopefully does better than your competitors – make sure every employee understands it.
Be credible. To be credible, your performance must fulfill your promise. Your brand personality must be rooted in reality. You can never be all things to all people, so don’t even try. Walmart doesn’t position itself as a boutique. BMW doesn’t talk about how inexpensive its cars are. They promise a certain benefit and they deliver. Once you give customers a reason to believe you, you give them a reason to come back.
Be comprehensive. Branding should infuse every aspect of your business, from packaging to print ads, from the way you answer phones to the way you sign off emails. Start with your logo (and tagline, if you have one). Put it everywhere you can: ads, tweets, websites, uniforms, shopping bags, packaging, signage, business cards, etc.
Be consistent. There are two types of consistency: internal and external. Internal consistency involves sticking to your branding strategy through thick and thin. Don’t change your logo or tagline every six months, or alter your basic message in response to a decline in sales for a quarter. Stay the course. Many large companies create style books to ensure consistency of logo use, fonts, colors, etc.
External consistency involves your product and performance. Both comfort consumers. McDonalds became one of the world’s great brands through product consistency. Travelers know that the Big Mac they order in Miami will be the same as the one they ate in Minneapolis. Performance consistency is a long-range benefit that breeds brand loyalty. If you liked your first iPhone, chances are your next smartphone will be an iPhone.
Be connected. The best brands motivate buyers by connecting with their natural desires. Budweiser zeroes in on our quest not for beer, but for the good times it provides. Mercedes-Benz may sell cars, but what it’s really offering is status and luxury. Allstate appeals to our need for protection. When your brand taps into an innate emotion, you make a special connection. You create more than a customer; you create a relationship.