How to build a successful brand that lasts?
The starting question of many of my projects as a freelance creative brand & strategy director. Boards often expect a golden formula, a quick tric to fix their issues and challenges. Sorry, there is no such fix. But, if you have balls and you're in it for the long run, there is a lot you can achieve. Follow some steps carefully and often results will come sooner than expected.
What is a brand?
A brand is not just a name or a logo. It is not a pay-off or a visual identity. It is not only a positioning strategy for a target audience, a campaign, a story, its tone of voice or a face. Nor is it solely the media you spend, the publishing frequency, the added value of your product or the service you offer.
1. Brands live
A brand is the sum of all this communication and interaction over time. Both one-to-many and one-on-one. And this sum is never static. Brands are dynamic. They live, grow and die. Just like the preferences and needs of its customers. Or the performances of its competitors. They need constant strategic attention and care. Ergo, create an organizational structure that houses brand caretakers.
2. The stronger its base, the stronger its value
Just like trees, the stronger a brand is rooted in the DNA of the company and the more authentic its added value is perceived by its customers, the harder its survival skills. Brands are not just an image you create. In order for a company to breath the brand, a clear definition of its values and promise is required. These values and promises need to be incorporated into every company fiber. And they need to fit those of its target audience.
3. The better the research, the more accurate you shoot
Knowing who your target audience is, what is important to them and how to reach them and affect their behavior, requires continuous research and interaction. Both quantitatively and qualitatively. A brand should always be relevant. Profile your ambassadors, involve and nourish them. And use their feedback wisely.
4. The smarter the strategy, the better the chances to compete
Be distinctive. Don’t just copy a brand. Built a strategy on what makes yours unique? Position the brand clever among its competitors (and within your existing brand & label structure). Have balls. Go for extremes, high-end or low-end, but never go for the middle. Take a five year horizon. And imagine how the market will develop and what it would take for the brand to be relevant and, preferably, the first in its kind.
5. The more consistent its message, the clearer the story
If you know who you are as a brand. And you know all about your customers, develop a strong brand message and keep it consistent over time. Pick a lane and keep the story clear. Translate and integrate the message cross-medial in all campaigns and communication. It’s the power of repeating that boosts your brand awareness and its customers' preference.
6. The higher the awareness, the higher the consideration and preference
Work at building and keeping up brand awareness. Measure it regularly. And be prepared to invest for the long run. It’s not how much you spend, it is how you spend it wisely. Use the communication channels that reach your target audience most effectively in terms of traffic and awareness growth. But also in terms of conversion and sales. Don’t stay away too long. Keep buzzing constantly. Once customers know your brand and what it stands for, they start considering it or even better developing a preference for it.