“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” – Philip Kotler
You need to connect with a diverse range of individuals without compromising your values or altering your brand.
When customers consider using or buying your product, they look at more than just the item available for purchase. It becomes a matter of forming a connection and discovering how the brand can meet their needs.
When you launch a product or business, you need to connect with a diverse range of individuals without compromising your values or altering your brand.
The Principles Behind Building A Brand
To achieve this, you need to find a way to engage with customers and start a dialogue that will lead to the development of relationships. This is the key to building your brand and developing a strategy. Communication ensures an authentic relationship between you and the people interacting with your brand.
The way you choose to communicate—be it advertising, marketing, social media, or public relations—all need to relay the same message. This message must provide consistent reinforcement of your brand’s identity and values.
Looking At Brand Strategies
A brand strategy aims to establish the business and its products within its identified market. In doing so, the brand will begin to grow and evolve.
Brand decisions require the utmost care. The impression you make and the connections you forge are what people remember—often for years at a time. Even if you were to rebrand during this time, the initial impression will still linger.
As they always say, first impressions are everything, and this is where the importance of having a good brand strategy comes into play.
There are several branding strategies that you need to keep mind, namely:
- Branded house: This is where one name refers to a range of products, like Hyundai or BMW, for example.
- House of brands: This relates to two or more brands made by the same company but fall under their own distinct names and brands. These “individual” brands could even compete with one another, for example, Tang and Kool-Aid.
- Competitive multi-brand: In this case, one major brand owns several smaller brands that offer direct competition with one another.
- Umbrella branding: One “big” brand owns multiple small ones that each belong to its own family and industry.
This list can go on, but ultimately, the point is to show you just how diverse branding can be and how you can implement and use it. With each type of strategy comes a slightly different approach to brand building, but the fundamentals will remain the same.
13 Principles Behind Building A Brand
1. Start By Defining Your Brand
“If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.”– David Brier
Defining your brand starts with who you are and your authenticity. This will more than likely determine the purpose of your business, its character, vision, mission, and overall goals.
Focus on your strengths and find ways to communicate them to your audience. This will assist you in identifying possible new business ventures as your brand becomes successful.
2. Your Personal Brand Will Determine Your Business Model
Building your business model as an extension of your personal brand will allow you to maximize your potential.
The brand promise that you make should reflect back on you and your values and beliefs. This will make it easier—and more relevant—when fulfilling the promises you make.
3. Consistency Is Key
Focusing on one key message will help differentiate you from your competitors.
Consider some of the biggest brands, for example, BMW. Their focus has always been on sheer driving pleasure. If you take a look at any of their marketing collateral, it’s clear to see how the message is being carried through. As a result, their cars have become synonymous with excellence.
4. Start With Your Internal Communications
Everyone that’s actively involved with your business should be able to tell you what they think and feel about your brand. This is the type of messaging that should be shared with your customers, too.
The key is to find ways to empower your staff to tell their stories, which can strengthen the customer’s perception of the brand.
5. People Connect With People
Emotions play an important part in brand perception.
While many of us often view a brand as a logo or a marketing campaign, it’s about much more than that. It’s about the people involved, the places it reaches, and the experiences it enhances.
People want to connect with something meaningful and feel as though they’re part of the bigger picture. While your brand and products serve to satisfy a physical need, it’s important to address people’s emotional needs as well.
6. Reward Brand Champions
Identify the people that voice their support and loyalty towards your brand. Ask them for their feedback on your current initiatives and campaigns.
The only way to strengthen your brand strategy is by identifying the weak links and then addressing them. Essentially, brand champions should be your biggest advocates.
There’s more to it than just simply buying a product; it’s also about investing in the lifestyle associated with it. By giving them a voice, you can strengthen your brand, while having a reliable source further reinforce your promise.
7. Flexibility Ensures Relevance
“A brand is a story that is always being told.”– Scott Bedbury
Consider the recent global pandemic. Businesses and brands that were able to adapt to change had a better chance of flourishing. In contrast, those that were unable to pivot in the same way lost out. This may have been unavoidable in some cases, but flexibility is definitely a game-changer from a high-level perspective.
So many people believe that branding is a once-off process, but it’s not. It’s a process of constantly evolving and keeping up with an ever-changing world.
The most successful brands don’t hang onto past branding methods simply because they worked well a good few decades ago. Instead, they reinvent themselves through flexibility and creativity.
8. Align Your Marketing Tactics With Your Brand Strategy
Wherever possible, share your brand message on your marketing and advertising platforms. Find ways to align it with ongoing campaigns and global events.
Hyundai is a great example of this. When the pandemic hit and people were faced with the possibility of losing their jobs, the vehicle manufacturer allowed car owners to return the Hyundai vehicles with no further financial commitment.
While only two people took advantage of this, it showed that they cared, and it strengthened their relationship with both existing and potential customers. Of course, the success of any campaign will depend on how you utilize your communication channels and tailor your approach per platform.
You also need to consider your timeframe when rolling out marketing collateral. For instant impact and a wider reach, using television and billboards may be more beneficial. However, if you have time on your hands, social media might reap better, long-term results.
9. Practice What You Preach
The first principle mentioned defining your brand and what it stands for. Once you have established these guidelines, it’s important to enforce them.
If your business doesn’t believe in something, then stand firm on this. Don’t go changing this just to reach a wider audience.
“Define what your brand stands for, its core values and tone of voice, and then communicate consistently in those terms.”– Simon Mainwaring
Compromising your values should never be an option. Should you decide to do this, you run the risk of your audience losing faith in your brand.
At the end of the day, if you firmly believe in something, you should stand by it no matter what. This is something you need to communicate properly.
10. Keep Track Of The Progress
One of the most effective ways to measure the success of your strategy is to focus on your return on investment. In some cases, the way your audience reacts to brand announcements and changes will be enough to drive your success. While in other cases, the results will rely solely on the investment backing the process.
While most attempts for increasing sales and boosting profits focus on generating leads and conversions, there are other ways to increase profits without spamming the world with marketing collateral. Simple adjustments to your overhead costs and business expenses can also free up some cash flow.
Ultimately, whatever path you choose to boost your sales, you’ll need to keep track of what’s being done and the response that it has received. If a campaign is not performing the way you expected it to, look back at what has been implemented, and the aspects that were well received. Use this to adapt your approach in a way that will ensure you receive a return on your investment.
If possible, try to implement an A/B approach. Run two versions of the campaign simultaneously to see what works and what doesn’t, and then make the necessary adjustments.
11. Build A Community
To engage with customers and build brand loyalty, you need to implement a community platform. Community groups and platforms that promote active engagement provide a space where members can connect with one another and share their thoughts on the brand, as well as its activities.
This type of insider knowledge excites people, makes them feel as if they’re part of a bigger picture, and involved in making an active difference. It is also an opportunity for brands to collaborate with their customers when developing new products or marketing campaigns.
12. Don’t Forget About Your Competitors
Your development of new products and initiatives will further drive the development of your competitor’s products and initiatives. It’s all about having a superior product and ensuring that your audience is aware of it.
Every successful brand needs to be a step ahead of the competition.
Even if you do currently have the most innovative, life-changing product on the market, your competitors are more than likely looking at ways to improve on your offering.
The market is constantly evolving, changing, and growing. There’s no time to get comfortable, as you need to be constantly looking at ways of outplaying your competitors to maintain your edge.
13. Practice Strategic Thinking
This means you’re constantly looking for ways to improve on what you’re currently offering, and are prepared to make the necessary changes. Don’t settle for what’s currently available and working.
While coming up with marketing campaigns may be easy, developing a strategic brand requires more forethought and effort. This is why so many businesses put it off.
Developing a brand strategy requires intensive planning and trial and error. This can be time-consuming, but the hard work will pay off in the long run.
While looking at what your competitor has done and altering it to suit your business may work in the short term, there’s a sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with developing your own creative and unique brand strategy. Copying what someone else has done should never be an option. Creating your own brand, having your own ethos, and building a reputation based on your product, service and identity is key to long-term success.
Build a Brand Strategy That Brings Meaning
If there’s one thing you need to take away after reading this, it’s that your brand strategy needs to share a key message and you need to convey it consistently.
There’s no way to cheat the system and build a once-off brand strategy. Your branding for your small business may be perfect but as your business grows and the world evolves, so too should your strategy. This form of flexibility and relevance will ensure your brand is memorable and that it becomes one of the industry leaders.
It’s all good and well to have a well-thought-out business plan listing your mission and values, but how does this translate to your business principles and how it will ensure your brand upholds the promises it makes?
You may think that it’s a straightforward enough concept—use the values to determine what’s acceptable and what’s not. However, so many businesses have overlooked their very foundation when building a brand, and the two aspects never truly align. This can cause mixed messaging and leave customers feeling disconnected—the very opposite of what you want to achieve.