As companies strive to place their business on a strong profitable growth trajectory, they tend not to ignore injecting brand development strategy into their business strategy. Today, business cannot grow or remain profitable without accepting branding as part of their marketing strategy. Those that have accepted this, have erected strong brands. Some organizations did start well, but then missed their way through lack of focus and discipline.
But my main focus for this post is for those that have gotten it all wrong from the get go, that branding is all about having an award winning logo, message, colors and design elements across all your communication channels. Organizations with such mind-set, branding pops up to them as a miracle cure for transforming product and jump starting success, especially when business is down or new competition surges. On several occasions I have personally asked businesses why that brand decision, and it mostly turns out to be "i want to be noticed by looking professional and beautiful with our new logo on business cards, adverts and promos". Our competitors have it and so should we. Such a mind set does not develop passionate customers and ROI.
Well such moves can create some level of awareness for businesses but that is not branding. To understand the concept of branding here are some few traits i have been able to assemble from some the great brands. You'll notice that it goes all the way to the core of the organization especially with a well redefined buyers value strategy in place as guide that drives organization decision making.
1. Great Brands differentiate themselves in a way that’s clear, easy to explain, and meaningful to consumers & stakeholders. Such differentiation is not in their choice of colors or logo but rather holding a unique position in the market with offerings that are unique and beneficial to their target audience. They create distinction by redefining its existing known industry boundaries problems so as to reconstruct buyers value elements and establish uncontested market space. A differentiation that every business want. A typical example is Apple.
2. Great Brands strategy always has focus, divergence and compelling promise that consumers need and believe in - These three characteristics always serves as an initial litmus test of commercial viability of erecting a great brand. If the brand lacks focus, its cost structure will tend to be high with business model complex in implementing and execution. If it lacks divergence the whole strategy becomes me-too kind of strategy, with no reason to stand apart in the market place. Your products becomes a commodity instead of a brand. Additionally when it lacks a compelling promise that speaks to the buyers, its likely to be internally driven with no great commercial potential. If your brand lacks any of these go back to your strategy drawing canvas to redefine the industry problems and reconstruct your buyers value, so as to redefine your brand focus, divergence and promise. Great brands always do this.
3. Great Brands with a clear and compelling vision are built from the inside out - That means they originate in companies with clearly established mission, vision, and values statements and strategy that drives every organization decisions. They ensure that the part of their brand that rises into public view - name, logo, advertising and promotional materials always mirror the mission, vision, values, culture and management that lies at the heart and soul of their organization. They have understood it always prevent credibility crises. Then they express this beliefs in everything they say and do, from the offerings they offer to the staff they attract, right down to the advertising and communications they send into the marketplace. If you don't have a strategy in place develop one that aligns this two - the heart and the base of your brand together.
4. Great brands have a single consistently presented brand and an amazing experience - Because of its well defined tagline, messages are distinct and compelling in all communications, regardless of the communication format or medium. They ensuring a single consistent brand character (logo, promise, message and character) in each and every encounter. They don't stop there but continue to tickle consumers with amazing experiences, an experience that positively reinforces the brand message and promise at the end of every single point of consumer encounter without fail- from purchase deliberations, the buying process and the after the sales. Amazing brand experiences will and shall always cement customer-brand relationships for life.
5. Great Brands have smart resistive builders - These builders have discipline, persistence and long-term commitment to their brands.They don't get bored with their brands and start sampling with new marketplace positions, new strategy, new looks and communications. They stick to their brand with unwavering loyalty. But they don't do this alone. They tend to build it from top-down and from inside-out to develop high allegiance and commitment to the brand, starting from the highest payed owner to the lowest staff.
Always remember this, that repetition is boring but it builds brands and brands build value.