Every business is unique and is at a different life-stage, this means they have their own unique set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to building their brand.
With this said, there are common factors that can make significant improvements to any brand. Here we explore 10 factors that could make transformative improvements to any brand:
1. Start with a strong vision
Many businesses think the best place to start is by drafting a plan or strategy. However, the best place to start is with the vision of the CEO and/or leadership team.
If you can visualise the future and where you would like your business be and what you would like it to look like in so many year’s time it is so much easier to make a plan for how to get there.
A large part of our value is in helping business owners define their vision and bring it to life so that everyone in the business can see it, be a part of it and pull together in the same direction to work to achieve it.
2. Understand your customers
The starting point to building a stronger brand is to get a deeper understanding of your customers and their needs.
We begin any branding initiative with an insight programme in which we speak to a variety of stakeholders from customers and employees to the leadership team and suppliers.
This doesn’t have to be a lengthy and costly process but asking the right the questions to the right people can be extremely fruitful and present the business with an invaluable insight in to current perceptions of the business and the needs and aspirations of its audience.
3. Don’t overlook the importance of the verbal identity
With a robust understanding of the needs and aspirations of your audience you can begin shaping your proposition around your true value to them.
Before any work begins on designing your brand (the visual identity) you should build a strong verbal identity. This means creating a strategic narrative about what you stand for, why you exist and what value you provide to your customers.
Only one this has been established should any work on the visual identity begin. The purpose of the visual identity is to then bring the verbal identity to life and help communicate your strategy through visual motifs.
4. Look past the short-term
So many businesses get caught up in the short-term: how many sales have we made this month, what’s the forecast for next month.
While it is obviously important to measure and keep a check on these figures, stepping back and focussing on building your brand over the long-term will help drive and convert more sales.
Long-term brand building will:
• drive much stronger sales growth over periods of 6+ months than the temporary uplifts driven from by short-term sales activation*
• capture on average 3x the sales volume**
• deliver long-term improvements in base sales that short-term sales activity cannot**
• be four times more likely to grow in the next 12 months**
In addition to these facts, research indicates that 58% of the sales impact of all marketing communications activity is delivered in the long-term***.
5. Define your place in the market
Often referred to as positioning, this can be one of the most important and successful factors of building a strong brand that people can associate with and align their own values to.
The result is a much stronger and deeper emotional connection to the brand that drives retention and boosts lifetime value.
Positioning strategies work to define a unique and defendable place in the market. The best are ideas that you can own and create differentiation, not just for differentiations sake but with real purpose.
Some of the best positioning examples include:
– Volvo: Safety
– Disney: Make people happy
– Nike: Genuine athletic performance
– Apple: humanising technology
– McDonald’s: Fast foods with home values
– Airbnb: A home away from home
6. Narrow your focus
Many business have a wide range of products and services and understandably want to communicate as much of them as possible so not to undersell themselves.
This approach however can have a negative effect on how customers understand your offer and can mean they are overwhelmed by too much information.
You cannot be all things to all people. The key to success is finding a unifying idea that taps in to the core need of your target audience. Once you have identified this need and ‘hooked’ them in, they will be willing to invest more time to understand how various products and services can support them achieve their goals.
This can be a very difficult and complicated process, but it really is key to ensure your brand resonates with your audience and they can understand your value to them.
7. Less selling, more helping
Your customers don’t want to be treated as though they only represent dollar signs to you. I’m sure you can relate to this in the way you like to be ‘sold to’ and purchase things.
If you focus on being helpful and educating your audience about how by utilising your products and services will help them overcome their challenges you can give your brand an edge while building trust.
Prioritising quality engagement and creating meaningful interactions through interesting, useful and engaging content can lead to loyal customers and sometimes even brand evangelists.
8. Be human
There has been a big shift in recent years from big corporate brands ruling the world to more innovative, authentic brands taking their place.
Authenticity is a big factor in successful branding. People buy from people (and businesses) they can trust and resonate with. Authenticity can be achieved through establishing a more human connection with your customers – talk to them on a personal level, use your people to build relationships and always ensure you can deliver on your brand promise.
Think about the brands you remember. They are human and real. They get stuck in our minds because they touch a part of ourselves that we didn’t think anyone else could see.
9. Communicate internally
A significant factor in the success of your brand is ensuring your employees understand it and buy in to it.
We see many businesses that are so focussed on communicating with customers they forget to align their messages internally. The result is that external messages are often confused leading them to have a detrimental effect on the business.
Ensuring your employees are aligned to your vision and brand story will help them to bring your brand to life, every day. This is fundamental to delivering a consistent message externally – whether it is answering the phone or how your team conduct themselves in sales meetings, every touchpoint can be utilised to build a strong and consistent brand.
10. Balance brand and tactical communication
We encounter many organisations that have an over reliance on sales. While this can deliver a good results in the short-term it has a detrimental impact on sales over the longer term because the brand does not have the presence and recognition in the market.
It also means that customers have no emotional connection to the brand or understanding of its true value. The result is that they are only able to compare them on price alone.
An optimum split in investment between brand-building and sales activation is on average:
• 60% brand-building
• 40% activation
Investing less than 60% in brand building activity will mean the brand equity required to generate future sales will not accumulate****.
I hope the above provides some useful pointers for you and your own business. If you would like a more bespoke approach to your specific challenges and opportunities why not register for the Fogg Fund.
* ‘Effectiveness in the digital era’, 2016, Binet & Field, The IPA
** The Meaningfully Different Framework, Millward Brown, 2013
*** Thinkbox, Ebiquity, Gain Theory, ‘Profit Ability: The business case for advertising’
**** ‘The Long and the Short of It’, 2013, Binet & Field, The IPA.