Running a business is competitive. More often than not, you are operating in an industry where many other companies offer similar services and products. In order to stand out, your company must be well branded, offering a unique identity and engaging a clear brand strategy.
"A brand is the perception someone holds in their head about you, a product, a service, an organization, a cause, or an idea. Brand building is the deliberate and skillful application of effort to create a desired perception in someone else’s mind.” - Jerry McLaughlin
Conversely, DavidOgilvy, the “Father of Advertising,” defined a brand as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” Whichever way you look at it; a brand is a first impression - what people see when they think of you, and, first impressions are everything.
Here, we explore the characteristics of brands excelling at leaving a good first impression so that you can build your own brand accordingly.
Simply put: Be Unique. In order to achieve this you don’t need a revolutionary idea, you just need to have one special characteristic that separates you from your competition. For example, Coke separates itself from Pepsi by selling the concept of ‘happiness’. This clear identity should extend to your slogan or tagline which should be simple, concise, catchy, and memorable. Like KFC’s ‘Finger Lickin Good’ or McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin It’, both of which help to clearly identify each company as unique to their competition.
Know Your Audience
If you don’t know your audience, how will you know who you are marketing to? Determining the right approach to your branding first requires understanding your target market. Successful brands understand who their potential customers are, as well as their customers needs, wants, how they think, and where they spend their time. This allows them to engage a meaningful conversation with them in those places. For more information on how to understand your target audience read ‘What is a Buyer Persona’ and ‘Simple Tools You Can Use to Define Your Buyer Personas’.
Be Consistent & Keep Your Promises
Great brands are consistent in design, color choice, language, and tone. Consumers gain comfort and trust in the confidence of understanding what an initial and repeat experience with your brand will be like. If your brand can convey consistency, consumers will feel comfortable knowing they can trust in your brand as it delivers every time. Not only will this build repeat business, but it will foster faith in your brand as a whole. The goal here is to ensure that no matter what the message you are conveying campaign to campaign, your brand as a whole always shines through.
Brand identity grows through engagement with consumers and consumer engagement grows throughs exposure. Without that exposure, you will simply fail to sell your products or services, so it stands that strategically marketing your brand is a key step in building a great brand. Key marketing channels that can help your brand gain exposure include: content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, paid media, PPC, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), TV and Radio marketing to name a few.
While larger brands are operating on larger marketing budgets, smaller, less established brands will need to be more strategic in their efforts. In this digital age, there are more tools than ever on hand to use and reference. Here are two we recommend starting with:
How to Decide Whether Traditional vs Digital Marketing is Right for You
Learn How to Create a Social Media Strategy
A great brand, like a boat, requires a captain to help steer the ship. Responsibility for this role will vary company structure to company structure. In some companies, responsibility may fall to the CEO whereas, in others, the VP of Brand Strategy or VP of Marketing might oversee management of the brand and its assets. No matter what the company structure, this person is responsible for managing brand communications, ensuring consistency and keeping everyone on the same page.
A great brand communicates a clear message as to what it stands for and how it is different from its competitors. While building a great brand in today’s climate can be challenging, the great news is that by honing in on these characteristics, you can attract consumers and create a stronger brand.