The Five Things You Must Know about Branding

BOB BROTHERS provides business insight, intelligence, and creative marketing strategies to entrepreneurs, business owners and corporate marketing leaders, at www.market-intel.com.

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Your “brand” is the sum of everything that people think, feel, believe and ‘know’ about you, your product and your company

Your logos, trademarks and advertising slogans symbolize the performance, quality and service you promise to deliver

Successful brands can earn Million$ or Billion$ for their owners

Communicate … Then deliver what you promise

You are unique – Your brand building strategy should be, too 

“Branding” is a concept, a strategy, an exercise dear to the hearts of business owners and marketing leaders.  Unfortunately, “brand” and “branding” are subjects as likely to sow confusion and wasted resources as they are to drive business and marketing excellence. 

The foundation of successful branding – whether you’re a start-up entrepreneur, a lone professional or a corporate marketing leader – is a solid business strategy, solidly executed:

– An offering that promises to satisfy the needs and expectations of your customers

– Execution that consistently delivers the values and experiences you promise 

Here are 5 things that every start-up entrepreneur, every corporate marketing manager, and every business owner should know about building your brand and the value it represents.

1.  Your Reputation is Your Brand

Close your eyes (It’s OK, you’re working!) and think about a familiar brand – Apple or Mercedes Benz, for example.  You’ll surely have some clear and distinct images – of the sort of person who is likely to own one, what owning one would be like for you, what to expect of the product and the company that stands behind it.  

Those images, and the reputations they represent, are Mercedes’ and Apple’s true brand, much more than the familiarity of their 3-point star or once-bitten fruit.  To build a valuable brand, you must:

– Clearly and consistently communicate your promise to deliver products, performance and service that bring value and satisfaction to your customers

– Build and nurture your reputation for delivering all that you promise

Your brand’s hard earned reputation – and the value it represents – can be easily tarnished through misuse or neglect.  Consistency, diligence and attention – year in and year out – are key ingredients in every successful brand.

2.  Symbolism:  Logos, Names and Tag Lines

Your brand – all that customer know, believe and feel about you – is a tremendous asset.  But how can you constantly remind customers of the value you bring to them, and to assure that you remain visible in a noisy and crowded marketplace?

Logos, trademarks and product names are the symbols of your brand, shorthand ways of calling up all the images and feelings that you have created in your customers’ minds. 

– Create easily recognized branding symbols – logos, trademarks, advertising tag lines and such – that are memorable and consistent with the image you wish to convey.    

– Use those symbols widely and consistently, in ways that reinforce the value of your products bring and that emphasize the image you wish to project.     

3.  Successful Branding Puts $$$ in the Bank

LYCRA brand elastane fibers (originally DuPont’s, now owned by Invista) dominate large segments of the apparel marketplace – swim and athletic wear, lingerie, women’s fashions.  Despite technical performance that is often surpassed by competing textile fibers, LYCRA has enjoyed huge market share, pricing and new product introduction advantages, simply because of the magic surrounding the LYCRA name.

The success that comes with that magic isn’t free.  DuPont, and now Invista, have invested heavily in building and maintaining the LYCRA brand – advertising, support for innovative fashion designers and marketers, R&D in sports science and performance, leadership in market and technology innovation.

The visibility and respect that result from successful branding creates real, tangible value – in market share points and opportunities for premium pricing, by opening the doors to new markets, and by reducing the costs and the risks of introducing new products.

– Monetize your success: You’ve invested in your brand’s growing recognition and reputation.  Now use that power (wisely and judiciously) to strengthen and extend your business   

4.  In the Beginning – Communicate

Your first brand building task is communication – to establish your visibility, credibility and recognition in a noisy, crowded marketplace, and to stimulate customers to actually ‘try and buy’ your new product.

Understand your Audience:  Which people are most likely to buy your product?  What product and service characteristics would most appeal to them?  Where are they most likely to learn about products like yours? 

Tailor the content and the look-and-feel of your message to the needs, expectations and sensibilities of your target audience.  What information (and what emotional appeals) will motivate them to buy?  What must they know to find you and complete their purchase?  How does your message reinforce the brand image you wish to project?

Select the mix of communications vehicles (website and SEO, TV ads, face-to-face promotion, social media, etc) most likely to capture the ‘eyeballs’ of the people you need to influence      

5.  Build a Branding Strategy That’s Right for YOU

The right brand building strategy for you depends on creatively assessing the unique nature of your business vision, your product, and the customers you aim to serve.

Who do you want your company to be?  Low price leader or luxury brand?  Mass market or artistic and avant garde?  Technology leader or plain vanilla?

Design you products and your actions to deliver the performance and experiences your customers value and expect

Tailor your communications to suit your intended audience and to project the image you aspire to

Manage your performances to faithfully and consistently deliver the products, service and experience that your brand promises.   

Successful branding is an investment in hard work, consistent attention, and patience, but the pay-off can add Million$ or Billion$ to the value of your company.

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