Building a strong brand is a key to success regardless of your chosen industry, product, or market. Without a strong brand, you don’t offer consumers any reason to purchase your brand over competing brands. If you want to build a brand of the future, you must take concrete steps for building a strong brand today by laying the foundation with as few mistakes as possible and protecting that brand’s reputation with actions in the future.
Of course, all business owners want to achieve a strong brand, but don’t know how to approach this critical strategy or think it requires a huge advertising budget that they can’t afford. If you know what it takes, absolutely work toward building a strong brand, which is a long-term strategy, not a one-time thing! As such, here are the necessary building bricks for building a strong brand that people will love, develop a strong purchase preference toward, and recommend to others. Check out the strategies below if you need advice on building a strong brand to support your long-term marketing strategy.
What is a brand?
According to TechTarget, a brand is:
A brand is a product, service or concept that is publicly distinguished from other products, services or concepts so that it can be easily communicated and usually marketed. Branding is the process of creating and disseminating the brand name, its qualities and its personality.
Thus, a brand is, to an extent, a shortcut for brand meaning just like your name not only identifies you to others but contains everything that makes you, you. And, just like your name, a brand is a placeholder for everything the brand stands for, such as quality, innovativeness, style, personality (see below for examples of brand archetypes), values, and much more.
A key element of building a strong brand is developing a brand meaning that resonates with your target market. This means developing a consistent message that reflects your value proposition, such as quality, value, style, etc. Match your value proposition to decision variables used by your target market to choose which brands to buy.
Don’t forget values, as a large percentage of global consumers choose brands, at least in part, based on shared values. And, you must live those values not just include them in messaging. For instance, if you’re Starbucks, you support the purchase of fair trade coffee in all your stores to ensure the many small farmers who produce the coffee beans get a fair price for their labor even though, as a powerful brand, you could force them to take a much lower price.
Remember, brand meaning is now a shared commodity. In the old days, a brand simply spread its brand messages far and wide. Today, social media democratized the process by giving voice to the many users and influencers on social media platforms. If you slip up by saying or doing something off-brand, social media users will spread your bad actions or words far and wide to counter any efforts you make to build a more favorable brand message. Consider this tweet from a Chrysler executive that cause a huge backlash against the brand and questioned the credibility of the brand’s image.
Once you developed a brand that meets the needs of your target market, consistent messaging is the key to building a strong brand. Use your branding whenever and wherever you can, and make sure to maintain a clear message across all your marketing efforts, we call this integrated marketing communication.
Place your name and logo front and center, allow your messaging to speak for itself, and allow customers to easily find out more about you via your website. This is where you can tell your story and allow it to inform the product decisions you make further on.
Manage your online reputation through social listening. When someone criticizes your brand, don’t hide or delete the comment. Instead, own your mistakes, be transparent about your efforts to fix the problem, and display your efforts to make the customer whole for any product failure.
Building a strong brand: what you need to know
Focus on your customers’ needs
Every good brand knows who its customers are and how to appeal to them. If you don’t, your first step is to build a market persona that not only portrays the demographics of your target market, but builds an image of your prototypical customer that includes their problems, decision variables used in making product choices, where they get their information, influencers, and anything else you can discover about them. In the old days, this required expensive, time-consuming market research, today, the process is faster by listening carefully to users on social media platforms. So when building your brand, the number one concern is to focus on the needs of your customers and prospective customers to show them you can help solve their problems.
As the company itself, you want to demonstrate that are trustworthy, offer good value, and focus on creating the right impression across all your marketing efforts. Combine these two principles to design a brand name, logo, and identity that lays the best foundation possible.
We all know some big brands off the top of our heads. Coca-Cola, Facebook, Amazon, and Nike are all incredibly recognizable simply from their logo without any need for you to see their name. Hence, you need a strong visual representation of your brand as an anchor for the rest of your branding efforts.
Start with your logo because, as visual animals, we remember logos. Make sure the colors match your message. For instance, greens evoke green marketing, blues reflect a certain element of seriousness, and reds attract attention. Color is so important, that John Deere protects the specific shade of green used for everything from their equipment to their advertising. Keep your design simple to represent the message you want consumers to develop about your brand. For instance, the apple missing a bite used by Apple represents the bite taken from a poisoned apple Alan Turing (who cracked the German code by building one of the first computers) used to commit suicide after he was punished for homosexuality after the war in England. It’s best to work with a professional such as STL logo design to ensure your brand identity comes out with a sheen you can’t quite capture in your own Photoshop suite. Tweak it as many times as you need to but make sure your final product is something a customer can respond to. Changing your logo is possible but it can cost you in terms of branding and may create chaos among your existing customers, as happened during the evolution of the Starbucks logo.
Tell a story consumers identify with
Having a brand narrative pushes you so much further than simply trying to wing it. If you know where you come from, and you’re able to put that information into a story that’s good to tell, your customers will respond in a much deeper way. It proves there are humans behind the brand, and that you’re just like them! That’s what someone needs to see in the modern era.
Get everyone on board
Don’t forget the role of employees, partners, and other stakeholders in building a strong brand. Get them on board as they also represent your brand to customers and prospective customers, especially in service businesses where customers come into direct contact with your people.
If you’re building a strong brand from scratch, the ideas above provide a strong foundation to build from. Utilize them as you curate a feeling and an image – there’s power in these simple ideas.
But, remember, this is a long-term strategy. You won’t see results immediately, so don’t get discouraged or stop working to build your brand when you don’t see a benefit right away.
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