“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business” – Steve Forbes. Your brand is on everything that you do, it is reflected with every interaction an employee, prospect or customer has with your business, and it will be around for a long time to come. Yet many perceive it as a non-priority area for investment or attention. Understanding your brand and having a clear vision of what your brand stands for can support your business strategy, differentiate you from competitors, position your offering, invigorate your employees, create more word of mouth, retain your customers and provide more strategic and targeted spend of your marketing efforts. So what are some of the key ingredients to a successful brand;
- Brand Attributes (benefits or values) – understanding what attributes are associated with your brand and what attributes you want associated with your brand is fundamental. Your brand attributes are the company’s brand characteristics. For example Disney has innovation, quality, community, storytelling, optimism, decency.
Some factors to consider when developing your brand attributes are; relevancy, personality, creditability, uniqueness, appeal, consistency. We generally recommend a brand survey to ask some customers what they think the brand attributes are. Even just what we call a “Patch Test” where you speak to only a select cross section of customers, can provide often surprising and very insightful responses. However, here is a simple exercise to get you thinking about your brand attributes internally;
- Write down what you think are the words (Brand Attributes) that the market/your customers would say about your brand NOW eg. Innovative, expensive, warm, friendly, low quality, expert, intuitive, responsive etc – be honest.
- Then write down the words you want the market to be saying about your brand in the FUTURE.
This helps clarify what brand perceptions you need to get past and what attributes you want to aim for so you can target your strategy around that. Ultimately your brand attributes will lead to an overarching Brand Vision.
- Brand Personality – in determining the tone of your communications, marketing and design moving forward, it is a good start to know what your brand personality is – are you traditional and corporate, cheeky and irreverent, warm but professional. A well used branding question to get you thinking about your personality is: “If your business was an animal, what type of animal would you be and why?”. Seems a bit crazy, but it’s excellent for making you think about your business from a different angle.
- Brand Positioning Statement – articulates your target market, gives context and defines the category you are competing in. It outlines what makes you different and unique compared to the competition, including the clear beneficial compelling reason to buy your product/service, and finally provides the reason to believe – the proof the brand delivers what it promises. Having this clearly identified will allow you to set your strategy, and have your employees and messaging on-point and consistent.
- Brand Vision – your brand vision is key for underpinning all your brand and marketing strategy moving forward. It is the cornerstone of your brand identity and brand building. It should be a clear aspirational articulation of what you want the brand to stand for in the eyes of the customers and employees. A strong brand vision will echo and support the business strategy.
- Brand Experience – Map out your brand experience from the first interaction your prospect has with you, eg. seeing an ad or your website, through to initial contact, sales, implementation/service, resales and retention. Now you know your brand vision, make sure every one of these steps reflects your brand identity and is consistently reinforcing the brand vision and brand promise.
As Michael Eisner from Disney said “A brand is a living entity – it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures”. Take the time to understand your brand, articulate a clear picture of what it stands for and ensure you stay on message consistently through all your communications and experiences. If you take the time to invest in identifying your brand upfront, it can be an invaluable asset that sets you apart from the competition.