First, it’s important to know what a brand isn’t.
Usually marketers start with logo, brand colors, byline, mission statement, etc., but those don’t make a brand. These are an execution. Time may change them and they may evolve as the brand follows its product curve. They may represent a brand, but they are not the brand.
A brand owns good foundations beyond the obvious.
Product Perception. How do consumers see themselves interacting with the brand? What makes the brand special in the consumer’s opinion?
Product Philosophy drives consumers to the product, so what conversation are you leading with your customers? What is your tonality? The voice you use may impact brand perception. Imagine the most recent Heineken ads, were Neil Patrick Harris to yell at you about the brand, instead of the cool, somewhat awkward, sell?
Product Past engages consumers through previous positive interaction. Like a human, a brand has only one chance to make a first impression. Don’t blow yours on unnecessary fluff or hype. Fact-based storytelling usually will win the day, especially with Millennials who seek quality and long-term brand integrity.
Product Promise offers your consumer an opportunity to positively label your brand. When properly presented, your brand promise is a guarantee of quality and integrity that is certain to last you the consumer’s lifetime.
Let’s simplify with a few easy brand creation steps:
What do your consumers know about you? How would they describe you in one sentence? Would that sentence be the true essence of your brand?
Create unbendable standards for interactions with your customer. You must offer products and services that are so remarkable as to remove all competitors from the higher steps on the product ladder.
Spend your last dime to spread the features and benefits of your brand. When possible, tell your story through meaningful and shareable content.
You will build brand advocates who endorse you willingly, if you stop at nothing to please your consumers. It is easier said than done. But if you and your brand are up to the task, your success is assured.
With success of a brand comes a great deal of responsibility to it. From time to time, revisit your brand promise, service and underpinnings, to recall how and why you became successful. When the time for growth comes, fear not. When your market calls for it, your closeness to the one who brought you to the dance, should not stop you from recognizing that brands, like people, sometimes require growth and change to keep them relevant to the market. Simply approach this phase with caution, not fear.
Remember that great brands are not static. Here are four easy steps that summarize your commitment to maintain your brand:
- Make an initial brand promise.
- Communicate that promise.
- Deliver on the promise in everything you do.
- Revisit the promise from time to time, without fear of it.
When done well, these four steps make a brand. Markets may change, and so may delivery channels or platforms, but a successful brand stays “rooted,” prepared to be a standard, day after day, year after year.