Branding 101: Start Here

get results: branding
get results: branding

At its heart BRANDING is about storytelling. It allows you to create a narrative around your brand that makes it easier to understand, remember, trust and like. It adds meaning to your brand so that it stands out from the competition,  and gives your marketing a coherent narrative that allows customers to tell their own story using your brand.

“If you’re not a brand you’re a commodity”. Your brand is your business personality. It’s how you look (your appearance: logo, typography, images), how you sound and communicate, and what you do as a business. Your Brand identity is the perception of your business in the minds of prospects and customers, it’s what they think about you when you’re not around.

There can be a big difference between how you would like your business to be thought of and how customers actually perceive it, so it’s important to encourage feedback and keep your ear to the ground.

When you think of Rolls Royce, you think style and quality, when you think of Aldi, you think of value for money and choice. Although British Airways and Ryan Air do the same thing, we think very differently about them as consumers. Your Brand separates you from competitors.

For your brand to be successful, you must forge a memorable space in the minds and hearts of your customers.

Get Results: branding components
Get Results: branding components

You must make the right impression to people that discover your brand, whilst maintaining a good reputation with those that have more experience of your brand. This is an on-going requirement that must be maintained. Trust takes a long time to build and a second to break, so you can never take your eye of the ball.

As a brand you make a promise that you must deliver on, if you don’t, your brand might be well known and strong but with negative sentiment, which can be very difficult to change.

Building a brand is a long game strategy. It’s built one customer pain point at a time.

When you’re not directly looking to get your prospects to buy from you, in transacting mode, you should be focusing on building your brand.

Most of your potential market won’t be ready to buy just now, but they will be in the next 30, 60, or 90 days. While most of your competitors are ramping up to target those prospects already actively searching, you should be ingratiating yourself with the bigger market sitting on the sidelines.

Provide them great free value that’s relevant to what you’re selling, show them what a great brand you are, prove that you can be trusted, that you’re likable, friendly and generous. When the time comes for them to buy, you’ll have already built some brand equity with them, well ahead of the competition, who as always, will be jumping in at the last moment, looking to transact them.

Get Results: marketing illustration
Get Results: marketing illustration

Here are some of the points highlighted in the above video…

Brands help customers figure out who they are and why they matter to the world. This sounds like a rather outlandish statement, but it’s true. Customers are often buying for more than just utility. They buy to improve from their current situation in some way and brands tap into this deep human trait through emotions.

Brands give customers the tools to tell their own story. Mercedes drivers are telling the world “look at how successful I am” simply by driving their car, or having it parked outside their house, without ever having to utter the words themselves. So brands help customers tell stories about who they are or what would like to be.

Brands are a reflection of their customers, as discussed previously, they are part of the story we are telling the world, simply by using the product.

Brands stand for something, they have a representation in customers minds. This representation should be unique, differentiated from competitors.

Customers become attached to brands, through consistent delivery of the brands promise. Brands should make and keep promises.

Brands are an accumulation of customer experiences, through all customer touch points. Off brand interactions weaken the brands promise.

Brands make customers feel good about themselves, particularly when using the brands products.

Brands use devices such as:

  • nostalgia,
  • teaching us something, support good causes,
  • positive influence,
  • helping customers highlight their sense of self,
  • beauty, elegance and stylishness,
  • associating with customer’s heroes or highlighting a better lifestyle,

Brands tap into emotional connections that are important to customers, after all, research has proven customers buy for emotional reasons, rather than rational reasons and simple utility, as discussed previously.

Brands help customers make buying decisions by taking away the need to be constantly restarting the searching and trust building process in suppliers/merchants each time they want to make a purchase and having to deal with the discomfort of buying from someone they don’t know very well. This is particularly true when customers buy from national and international brands. When you buy a McDonald’s burger anywhere in the world, you know what their  promise is and that they will consistently deliver on that promise anywhere you find them.

Customers learn to trust brands who then become important to them over time.

  • Your BRAND should make and keep its promises
  • Your BRAND purpose and promise must be important to customers
  • Your BRAND must fit into customers world – be part of their tribe
  • Your BRAND needs to have a unique meaning in customers minds and hearts
  • Your BRAND should help your customers tell their story to the world – Mercedes = “look how successful I am”
  • Your BRAND should encourage people to say amazing things about the people associated with it – customers and employees
  • Your BRAND should deliver its promise consistently through all customer touch points
  • Your BRAND needs to repetitively communicate and deliver on its purpose and promise, to drive it deep into customers minds and hearts
  • Your BRAND must stay relevant with customers as tastes evolve by remaining nimble and open to feedback and change

In summary…

Understand what story your target customer wants to tell the world about who they are or would like to be, particularly when using your brand,

Mercedes = “Look how successful I am, I drive a merc”
Apple = “I’m stylish, innovative, cutting edge, because I love Apple”

Your brand must help them link their self-esteem to your brands aspirational qualities.

Your brand must promise to help them keep telling their story, only by delivering on this promise over and over again, through all customer touch points, will your brand be strengthened in the minds of customers.

Promises made, promises kept.

Your brand promise must stand alone, separate from competitors.

Your brand promise must be focused, memorable and aspirational. Its better to be known for  one  main thing with a few supporting traits.

Your brand must become a symbol of your promise, by how it look, how and what it communicates.

Brand identity should be aligned with your promise, consistently delivered through all customer touch points. If your brand doesn’t look like customers expect it to, they won’t believe your  promise is genuine.

For more help on building your brand, check out the links below and follow our branding 101 course.

Branding 101