Most people think of branding as “the logo,” but a logo is just the starting point of a brand’s visual and communication aspect. Building a successful brand is more than just a logo. It is the total perception someone holds in his or her head about a brand. It is reflected with every interaction an employee, prospect or customer has with a brand. Brand relationships are the end result of all the contacts that consumers have with a brand. Therefore, brand building is the skilful application of effort to create a desired perception in someone else’s mind.
Branding is often at the heart of the companies that thrive. Strong brands drive financial performance by ensuring that the most motivating brand associations influence purchase behaviour. So do you know what makes your brand identifiable to consumers?
Within the crowded marketplace, brand failure can derive from many sources including; not understanding your target customer, not having a clear vision of what your brand stands for, not being differentiated from competitors, not having the ability to position your offering or invigorate your employees, nor stimulating positive word of mouth.
So what are some of the key characteristics of successful brands;
Know your audience – customer base
A brand cannot appeal to everyone. Trying to appeal to everyone can be counterproductive, causing a company’s brand to become diluted. Being specific and targeted allows you to be memorable and the best in your niche. Brands that do it right have a thorough understanding of the demographics of their target market, what their interests are, their desires and struggles and how they communicate. Brands must always reflect and connect with their target market. This will set the tone of the brands personality.
Be different and unique
Establishing a brand identity requires something distinctive. Great brands differentiate themselves from competitors in a way that’s clear, easy to explain, and meaningful to its customers and all other stakeholders. For example, Apple has become known for their innovative product designs and simplicity. Brands like Apple hold a unique position in the market because they provide benefits competitors can’t match.
Create a fantastic brand experience
A positive brand experience reinforces the brand message and promise at every single point of encounter. A fantastic brand experience starts at the very first impression and continues through to and after the buying experience. Top-notch customer service, whilst living and breathing the brand values will cement a brand’s relationship with its audience for life!
The look, message, language, colour, typography style, service, experience, tone and sounds must always reflect the brand. Consistency builds trust and solidifies the brand. When consumers come back to a business for repeat sales, they usually expect to receive the same level of quality as they did the first time. Restaurants with their food and service quality are a great example of this. Inconsistency is often enough of a reason for consumers to take their business elsewhere. An example of a brand that offers amazing consistency is McDonald’s. It’s impossible to miss McDonald’s branding anywhere. No matter where in the world you are, the golden arches have become synonymous with fast-food and service. Whether someone orders in Rome, New York or Sydney, they know that a Big Mac is going to taste the same.
With traditional marketing techniques no longer seeing the results of the past within a connected world of information, word of mouth and choice, businesses are having to shift what and how they are communicating to their customers. These days, consumers trust has plummeted across all industries and honesty and authenticity have emerged as the attributes that matter most. An international survey by Cohn & Wolfe found that 87% of global consumers felt that it was important for brands to “act with integrity at all times,” ranking authenticity above innovation (72%) and product uniqueness (71%) when asked what they valued most in a brand. To be authentic brands must be honest and transparent – authenticity is all about giving people a reason to care. Is your brand true to its consumers?
Keep your promises
A company’s slogan, marketing and advertising activities will tell customers about a company and what it represents. Successful brands pick their message and make promises carefully, aware that they are always able to keep them. Break that promise or appear dishonest breaks the partnership between a brand and its customers, which could lead to rebuilding a company’s image, this is both expensive and takes time. Always stay on message and always deliver on your promises. It’s the pledge upon which the brand and its reputation is built and maintained.
If you would like to watch a whiteboard video of the ‘Top 6 characteristics of successful brands’ click here
Please share your thoughts, think of successful brands like Starbucks, BMW, Disney etc. What other characteristics come to mind? As a thought starter – brand value…