Monday 17 June 2013

How to Create a Strong Brand

What is a brand?

A brand is an identify that differentiates your product or service from those offered by others.  Your brand tells customers what they can expect from your company.  In other words, a brand is a promise of your distinctive delivery.

Poundland communicate their cheap products through shops with no-frills in off-high street locations.

Coca Cola communicate a promise of good times through sharing a Coke with friends, backed up with adverts showing happy smiling faces in the sunshine.  Their promise is that Coca Cola delivers enjoyment.  Nowhere do they talk about the qualities of their product.  They talk about the value it delivers.

Why is Branding Important?

Your brand is the accumulation of every interaction that customers and potential customers have with your company.  Every tweet they read, every time they buy from you, the way you behave when things go wrong, your advertising, your web site, your Facebook page, you blog, your business cards.  The lot.

Just as every time someone buys a Coca Cola they want the Coca Cola brand promise to deliver the same taste, each time someone interacts with your company you want them to have the same experience.  Whether that is good value (as with Poundland), a high level of technical proficiency and ability to deliver a working system (as with a software business), or whatever your particular promise is.

All this takes time, money and effort.  If your efforts get fragmented or if your message is different each time a customer interacts with you, they become confused about your promise of delivery. In other words they are not clear what will deliver when they buy from you. No wonder companies consider their brands to be amongst their greatest assets.

How to Create a Strong Brand

First you have to be clear about your promise of delivering. 

This isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds.  You have to understand who your target market is, and why they might buy from you.  Why would they exchange their hard-earned cash for whatever you are offering?  Why will their lives be better after the transaction?  After all, whilst you are focusing on the money going INTO your bank account, they are acutely aware that it is coming OUT of theirs.

Secondly, you have to communicate your promise of delivery in a clear, uncomplicated way.  Not because your customers have difficulty reading, but because they are busy, pressured people with multiple stresses to deal with.  Their attention span is limited. 

So the message has to be crystal clear.  Coca Cola = good times.  Poundland = cheapest anywhere.  McDonalds = consistently good burgers.   The Tea Bush = Beautiful gifts for now and for future generations.

So what are the components of building a brand?

  • Distinctive identity – including visual identity and brand promise
  • Repetition of key messages
  • Consistency – in messages, and in interactions with customers.  Over a long period of time, with a large enough audience
  • Delivering on your promise