In order to create a strong brand, a company must differentiate itsproduct or service from others. This differentiation helps build acollection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer. Customers whobelieve in a brand spread the word about its benefits, increasing thevalue of the brand as an asset. Companies that do not live up to theirbrand promises to customers suffer. Here is a recommendation you should read Branding Guidelines Your Small Business Should Live By.
- CREATE AN EXPERIENCE Customers by nature are looking for an experience when they interact with yourbrand. All their experiences with your brand make an impression and help set an expectation of what your brand is about. An example of a brandfocused on creating an experience is Disney. Whether you are at one oftheir amusement parks, watching a Disney movie, or visiting a Disneystore, you have an expectation that your experience will be filled withwonder and the highest level of service with a smile. (Read: 10 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Business Name)
- DEVELOP CLEAR MESSAGING Going through the process of branding your business will help you developclear messages about your company. From your mission and vision, to your core values, value proposition and competitive advantages, it’simportant to have very clear messages that represent what your companystands for. This helps set customer expectations and tell a story thatwill resonate through all your media outlets and customer contactpoints.
- INCREASE CREDIBILITY Establishing andkeeping a brand promise will help build credibility for your companywith customers, prospects and vendors, as well as in your industry andcommunity. Keep in mind that even a very creative marketing strategywill not render as high of an ROI if you are not believable. Believablecompanies gain trust with customers with less effort, and people preferto do business with businesses they trust.
- CREATE AN EMOTIONAL TIE WITH YOUR TARGET MARKET By gaining insight into what your customers want and need, you can learnhow to connect with your target market on an emotional level so theyfeel good when they buy from you. Purchasing is an emotional experience, so make sure to tell your brand story in a unique way that resonatesemotionally with customers! (Also read: The Do’s & Don’ts for Building a Successful Brand)
- MOTIVATE CUSTOMERS TO BUY MORE
Once customers trust your brand, it’s easier to offer new products andservices. A strong brand helps foster business growth. According to astudy by Gartner Group, on average 80% of a company’s future profitscome from 20% of its existing customers. For example, Dove became awell-known soap brand, which made it easy to increase sales when thebrad introduced body washes, lotions and deodorants to their existinghappy customer base.
- BUILD BRAND LOYALTY
Strong brands live true to a consumer promise that supports how a person wants to feel about themselves or how they want to see them-self whenthey use that product or service. This builds brand loyalty. Thecustomer essentially buys into a brand because of the promise that theyare a certain type of person, which promotes customer loyalty. HarleyDavidson is a great example of how building loyalty through a strongconsumer promise impacts the success of the brand.
- BE MEMORABLE
A benefit of developing a strong brand story is to be top-of-mind in your brand category. Examples of brands that stay top-of-mind include Apple, Levi’s, Victoria’s Secret, Rolex, Nike, and Fedex. These brands arememorable because of a brand promise incorporated into a strong brandidentity and message. Victoria’s Secret represents “powerful, sexy andglamorous women who love their bodies”, and you can trust Fedex “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
- STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS
In today’s economy and digital world competition is everywhere, and it’simperative to differentiate your brand from competitors. When you embark on branding your company, one of the most important things you shoulddetermine is your unique sales proposition (USP) – this is the ultimatecompetitive advantage that makes you better by being different, and it’s perhaps the hardest brand message to develop, as well as the mostpowerful! Once you determine a true USP, you can stand out from all thesimilar companies out there.
- REFLECT YOUR COMPANY’S SENSE OF PRIDE
A significant message you develop when you brand your company is thecore values it holds. Your brand should represent the values you areproud to stand for no matter what. Zappos developed a unique set of core values that are reflected in all its packaging, marketing materials and customer service activities. Zappos’ customers can relate to these core values, which influence their decision to buy from the company.
- GENERATE REFERRALS
People love to share things they like. Yes, people love to talk andshare products through word of mouth, but they will also share yourbrand without even knowing it through wearing your product, eating yourproduct, driving your product, etc. People love to tell others about the brands they like. People wear brands, eat brands, listen to brands, and they’re constantly telling others about the brands they love. On theflip side, you can’t tell someone about a brand you can’t remember. Astrong brand is critical to generating referrals or viral traffic.
- MOTIVATE EMPLOYEES
A brand strategy can help employees better understand theirresponsibility in representing the company and contributing to itssuccess. It helps them know how to act and how to meet the company’sgoals. Apple’s brand strategy includes a statement that, “People don’tcome here to play it safe. They come here to swim in the deep end. Theywant their work to add up to something. Something big. Something thatcouldn’t happen anywhere else.” This brand statement helps the companyattract people who are motivated and who will, in turn, be loyal to thecompany. (Recommended: 10 Ways to Lead, Inspire and Motivate Your Team)
- CREATE CONSISTENCY
Brands withclear and consistent branding help customers know what to expect whenthey buy your product or service. This puts customers at ease. Yourbrand story should be consistent across all media from your corporateidentity and advertising, to your presentations, packaging and phoneetiquette. And, you need to be committed to consistency for a long time… for just when you are tiring of your brand story, others are justbeginning to recognize and remember it!
- BE RECOGNIZED
People like to be familiar with the companies they do business with.When you branding your company, customers and prospects will begin torecognize you. Recognizing and remembering a brand is a key tomarketing. Even with many dollars spent in advertising, sales conversion is not nearly as high without brand recall. A unique and creative brand story can help increase brand recognition, and therefore increasesales! Probably some of the most recognizable branding in history hasbeen done by McDonald’s through the golden arches and Ronald McDonald,not to mention “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese,pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun – Big Mac.” The ad hasn’t run inyears, but I still remember every word!
- COMMUNICATE WHAT YOUR COMPANY STANDS FOR
An effective brand story goes beyond features and benefits to helpcommunicate your company’s style and character, including values andbusiness principles. Many companies take this a step further bycommitting to local charities, or even global causes. For example, TOM’s was founded with a mission to donate a pair of shoes to a person inneed for every pair it sells. Today, the company also restores sight to a person for every pair of glasses purchased and provides a week of clean water to a person in need for every bag of TOM’s coffee bought. Thebrand message is “One for One®”, and the brand attracts consumerslooking to “positively impact communities in need around the world.”
- ESTABLISH A STRONG REPUTATION
Reputation really is what branding is. Looking for the right brandmessage for your business? Look straight to your reputation, and buildon that. Ask customers why they buy from you, why they come back, andwhy they chose your company over competitors. The answers to thesequestions can help you form your brand promise, and as you continue tolive up to that promise, your brand will establish a strong reputation.
- BUILD TRUST
People buy from companies that they know will take care of them.Creating a brand allows your business to develop a brand promise. Moreimportantly, as the brand lives up to that promise time and again, trust is built. And, not only does trust foster loyal, repeat customers, butit also leads to referrals, positive word-of-mouth and goodwill. And,customers interact and share more with trusted brands. An SDL surveyfound that 79% of respondents are more likely to provide personalinformation to a “trusted” brand online. Therefore, brands have to earntrust to be successful in today’s digital marketing environment.
- RISE UP IN TIMES OF TROUBLE
Having a strong brand can help insulate you in times of crisis andeconomic uncertainty. By differentiating your brand, you can avoidproblems when competitors experience bad times. And, the strongestbrands can overcome tragedy as Johnson & Johnson did when Tylenolcapsules were laced with cyanide. By showing its commitment to consumersafety as a core value, J&J was portrayed in a good light and theTylenol brand was able to recover.
- INFLUENCE PURCHASING DECISIONS
Without branding, consumers would just pick up the nearest product they could get their hands on. But given a competitive environment,differentiating your product through branding will help you influencecustomers. From expressing a style or character with which customersrelate, to expressing benefits of your product or service, you cancreate an emotional tie that makes the purchasing decision easy forthem! Also read: 6 Memory Factors to Consider as You Craft Your Brand Name
- BUILD AN ASSET
When you develop aneffective brand that is memorable, easily recognizable and superior tothe competition, brand equity can be built. A strong brand can providevalue that far exceeds a company’s physical value. For example, Heineken bought Asia Pacific Breweries for over $5 billion dollars because oneof APB’s most successful brands is “Tiger”, which is a popular brand inAsia and has potential to be a popular brand throughout the world.Heineken bought the company for its brand equity, not its physical asset value.
- STAY FOCUSED
When you embark onbranding your company, the first step is establishing a mission andvision for the company. A clear branding strategy helps a company stayfocused on these basic principles, guided by staying true to the brandwhile meeting certain business goals. With a strong brand, yourorganization can focus on strategy. And, a brand strategy helps to guide marketing initiatives so they align with your business goals and plans, which can save your organization time and money.