3 Steps to Create a Strong Brand

3 Steps to Create a Strong Brand

A lot of business owners see their business as their baby. Some are even bold enough to say it out loud in the open (probably raising an eyebrow or two from their actual children in the process).

But one thing that they don’t often think about is that babies grow up and take on distinctive personalities, and have a life of their own. Basically, business owners don’t think about their company’s “personality”. They don’t think about their business’ brand.

Of course, most people will say that a brand is a nice-to-have, but the importance of a brand cannot be understated. It is essential to making your business stand out from your competition. It plays a vital role in having your brand stay firmly lodged in the consumer’s mind. Sometimes, it even makes your business personable and relatable.

Nike’s branding is unmistakable. Can you say the same for Reebok? (Photo Credit: MNZ Outfits)

“Just ask Nike, which is about ‘empowering the athlete,’ vs. Reebok, which is about… well, your guess is as good as mine.” – Luke Sullivan, “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This!”

Brands and brand voices are your unique selling proposition, who you are and what you stand for, and how you square up against the competition – all in a single message.

So how do I start crafting a strong brand? Read on for our simple 3-step process to building the foundations of an unforgettable brand!

 

Start Simple – Start with You

Think about the universe and how it came to be. An incredibly small and dense form of matter exploded, and from there rapidly expanded into the unimaginably big universe we live in today.

Brands aren’t much different. Let’s look at Nike again. Ever since agency Wieden & Kennedy penned Nike’s Motto “Just Do It”, everything Nike has put out since has been an extension of that. Take a look at their Instagram Page. You can almost feel the phrase “Just Do It” beating at the heart of each and every post.

You can find an entire brand “universe” built and expanded from a single brand message. “Just Do It” can be found at every point of contact with the customer.

Okay, now let’s look back to your brand. Start with figuring out where the “center” of your brand “universe” is.

This “center” should be your brand unique selling proposition, boiled down into something that can be described in as few words as possible. Dan Wieden, co-founder of Wieden & Kennedy stated that “Brands are verbs. Nike exhorts. IBM solves. Sony dreams.”

 Exhort (Verb): “to strongly encourage or try to persuade someone to do something” – Cambridge English Dictionary

Yep. “Just Do It” fits the bill here.

If verbs don’t work for you, go with Luke Sullivan’s suggestion and go with adjectives instead! In “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This!”, Sullivan advised copywriters to strip their brand’s value proposition until they got down to a single adjective that their brand stood for. If you can’t get down to one adjective, Sullivan suggests to boil it down to as much as you can, down to the very essence of it.

Examples of this would be Volkswagen=Efficient; Dove=Soft.

David Ogilvy summed up brand positioning and branding in general quite well with the following quote:

“This curious verb is in great favor among marketing experts, but no two of them agree what it means. My own definition is ‘what the product does and who it is for.’’

Look around the Landscape

You’ve just done micro-level analysis by really taking a look at what your brand stands for. Now it’s time to look at the bigger picture.

How many soda brands can you name in 5 seconds? (Photo Credit: Himalaya Karan)

How many soft drink brands can you name in 5 seconds? 

Let’s broaden the question a bit further. When you think of brands for any category, how many brands immediately come to mind? Maybe 3 at most?

That’s the rules of the game right there. Your positioning is part of a long line of brands looking to place first, and these brands will push and shove to get to the very front. Sometimes, they even stoop down to playing dirty.

Now that you know the situation, you ought to focus on these two things: Which brands have managed to climb up to the very front of the line, and what they are lining up for – the customer’s attention.

Go back to the brand that you just created and answer the following two questions:

  1.       Does my brand stand apart from other brands at the front of the line?
  2.       What does the customer want and value? Does the customer actually care about the brand and unique value proposition that I decided to focus on?

 

Number 1 allows for easier and more visible advertising because your brand will be different from the rest. If your brand ends up similar to your competitors, that’s not the end of the world. It just means that your brand needs to perform better than competing brands in the same bracket.

Think insurance companies, right? Their branding is relatively the same: invest in your safety at reasonable prices. The insurance companies at the forefront of the market just market that branding better than their competitors.

But you need to think long and hard about Number 2.

Focus on the Objective: The Customer

Think hard about the unique value propositions your target customers actually care about.  (Photo Credit: Bruce Mars)

When you build a product or service, you know it inside out. You probably can list a million reasons as to why your product is just flat-out better than anything else on the market. But chances are, the customer doesn’t value all 1 million reasons the exact same way. Generally, customers will only have a few things in mind when they pick and choose between products. Ask yourself honestly if your brand falls within that space.

While a lot of businesses conduct market research to figure out customer needs, one thing you could do if you’re tight on your budget is to look to your competitors holding the biggest market share. Take a close look at their brands and ask yourself the following: What does their branding say about your target customer’s needs? Why does their branding work?

Factor all of that into your analysis, and see if your branding needs a revisit. 

 

Conclusion

Building a brand that really stands out is incredibly difficult. This is why so many companies and businesses just plod along with very forgettable, generic, and run-of-the-mill branding. When customers engage with these companies, they take their branding as seriously as the company takes it: not at all.

But if you build a solid brand you have a massive leg up on your competition, because you will have something that’s incredibly scarce.

A spot in your customer’s mind.

 

Feel free to reach out to us HERE if you need any help with creating the next biggest brand.

 

OpenMinds HK is a digital consultancy that helps brands penetrate the HK digital ecosystem focusing on content strategy, social media, ad-buying strategy, analytics & more.