So you want to build a successful brand?
What is it that makes a brand great? In this short read, Rob gives us some headline thoughts on the importance of company branding, why this is important and what you may want to consider.
Why bother developing a brand?
A good product at the right price will sell whatever the brand – right? Not necessarily.
The real reason why developing a good brand is important lies in the simple truth that Unique Selling Points (USP’s) are becoming difficult to achieve, or possibly, do not exist at all anymore; so another reason is needed for a person to buy your product or service.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, ‘this chap has lost his marbles’. But think about it. Name one USP that exists in any product or service that you use. Take your mobile phone; what feature does your phone have that others don’t. You might say that the camera is the best, or the screen resolution is second to none…but you will always get people arguing the point. Their phone has a great camera and the phone’s screen is really vivid. Clear service or product differentiation is getting harder to deliver. And, even if you can generate a USP, pretty soon after you have delivered it, the competition catches up and the advantage is lost. So, basing a business on a USP advantage is not a good idea.
And that’s where a respected and familiar brand is essential…
A good brand fosters loyalty and allegiance…they become members of your ‘club’. Once you have this then the need for constantly creating USP’s is negated. You still need to have a competitive product/service, but its success is more to do with creating a set of values that your target audience can relate to, rather than relying on USP’s or price.
Creating the brand
There are great many tomes dedicated to this subject so I’m not going to try and cover all the points here…but here are some points that, in my opinion, makes a brand work.
People Oriented – When we think about the brands we bond with, they tend to add something to our lives, and they tend to offer values that align with your own. A quick example…I have a friend who swears by Apple. He’s a 66-year-old, ex managing director of a creative design agency. He’s a very passionate and slightly crazy individual; dresses quite weirdly, slightly left wing, loves scotch whisky, French cooking, VW Transporters, obscure jazz, and faggots and gravy. When you consider the brand values of Apple; Steve Jobs said, “Apple’s core value was to honour people who think that they can change the world with their passion”. Now the values of Apple have changed over the years but it’s easy to see how my friend can relate to Apple. I know this is only one case but have a think about the brands you believe in, think about who you are and what you stand for, and then see if the values align…I think you’ll be surprised. Brands that work better our lives in some way. Whether that’s convenient fast food or the Bentley you’ve always wanted and now own. And that’s another value of a good brand – they inspire us to achieve. And finally, from a people perspective, a successful brand makes us a feel part of a team. The sports shoe you choose to wear becomes a badge of the team you’ve adopted. When you see someone else in the same shoes as you, an immediate affinity is created between you.
B2B or B2C, brand allegiance is key.
It’s not just a logo
At Mediafleet, if we were to rely solely on innovation and USP’s to be successful, we would have gone out of business a long time ago. Even though clearly, we are in the B2B market, brand loyalty is the most important factor. And for Mediafleet, that loyalty is fostered through aligning our processes and procedures with those of the customers and supply chain. In other words, we like our customers to think of Mediafleet in the same way they would think about their favourite coat. It’s comfortable, familiar, and keeps them protected from unwanted elements. And that is exactly what we do at Mediafleet.
So, you can see that what your brand stands for needs to resonate with your target audience. The personality of the audience needs to align with the true personality of the brand. The tone of voice of everything issued or published from your publication has to support the brand value messaging. This even extends to the employees within the business. Companies should be recruiting individuals that can support and enhance this brand voice. Everything they say and do should be in line with the brand core values. If this is delivered in a consistent fashion, then the brand values will be delivered and recognised by the target audience. The goal is that if you have kept your promises, and delivered what you said you would, in a manner that is consistent and aligns with your target audience, then the brand should start working for you.
A company with a good brand is less reliant on price and USP’s.
Once your brand starts working for you, you have less reliance on USP’s or being competitively priced when trying to win business.
Why? – Because other aspects of the marketing mix kicks in. And I don’t mean the traditional marketing mix or the 4 P’s (price, promotion, product and place) as this has all changed. (More on this in the next article) I am talking about product leadership, operational expertise and customer service excellence.
How do you deliver the brand message?
Delivering the brand dynamics is all about influencing your target audience through channels that are seen by your audience. This relies on a good understanding of your chosen comms channels but clearly, the usual suspects will be in the mix. These include blogs, videos, social media and articles etc. The key once again is a consistent message, so your audience clearly understands what you are trying to achieve. If you’ve done your homework, then this should align with their own aspirations.
If you get this right, your target audience will join your ‘club’ and become passionate, and possibly even defensive, about your organisation. A third party talking negatively about your company is, in actual fact, criticising the choice that individual has made. They will be expounding the benefits of your company on your behalf…and that is utopia!