Ask Google how to build a brand and the first handful of results alone will overwhelm you with advice – some good, some bad, and some ill-advised. The reliable advice a good marketer would typically give should be specific to the brand, and based on market data they’d uncover through research. But it’s a topic that arises frequently enough to at least attempt to address at a high level. In that spirit, here are my top 5 marketing thoughts around building a world class brand.
1) Build For Your Audience
The first mistake people make when they set out to build a new brand or when it’s time to rebrand an existing company, is that they make decisions based on their personal preferences or the preferences of their inner circle. This brand isn’t for you, it’s for your customers, and a strong brand starts with good research from appropriate and adequately sized sample audiences. Everything from color palettes, logos, and copy to font types, imagery and brand voice can and should work together to positively influence your customers’ buying behaviors and increase your odds of achieving desired outcomes. Don’t build your brand based on your agency’s preferences or anyone’s personal preferences alone. Build for your audience and make sure there’s good data behind every decision.
2) There Are No Small Decisions
If you’re embracing the goal of building a world class brand, you have to obsess over the details. From analyzing market data to pouring over design, copy, and tone, your guidelines need to be observed with disciplined consistency. Some people won’t understand when you tell them it’s important that headline copy be in Pantone 485 vs. 1797, or in helvetica light vs. helvetica light condensed. But there are numerous reasons to focus on those details, the chief of which is consistency. Being consistent and disciplined with your brand won’t just help your customers understand your brand, it’ll help you and your team understand your customers through consistent, measurable data. Armed with reliable information, there is no limit to how far your market-driven decisions will lead your company.
3) Great Brands Rise Above
Great brands rise above individuals. Founders, owners, and senior leaders can and certainly should bolster a brand, drive a company’s vision and add a much needed human element to a brand’s narrative – just look at Walt Disney. But the most widely respected brands in the world begin realizing their potential as they build to rise above and live beyond the individuals that create and lead them. There’s a delicate but essential balance to be achieved here if a world class brand is your goal. Top leaders remain vigilant here.
4) Culture Is Critical
One of the most critical components of a strong brand is an army of team members who are sold out for your company’s character, values, and quality metrics. Your internal marketing message and your team members’ personal experiences with your brand should reinforce your external marketing message and translate to positive customer experiences. Once you have the right team members in place, listen to them. The perspectives of the people working closest to your customers paired with direct customer feedback and continued research will help ensure you’re on the right path.
5) Experience Is Everything
Define your brand as what people think when they see, hear about, or experience your company in any form. Those all-important opinions are rarely formed solely on the look of your brand, but more weightedly on experiences with the brand. Those experiences could range from first-person to word of mouth or online reviews. Did you know that 84% of customers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services? Further, 88% trust online reviews written by other customers just as much as they trust those recommendations from personal contacts. If you’re going to do this right, you’re going to have to think through your customer’s entire experience. This ranges from first time they encounter your brand in any form and their in-person or online experience to the user experience delivered through your products and services, encounters with team members and social media, and post-purchase follow-ups and service. Do this right, and this is where your brand will win advocates and customers for life.
Trusted Recommendations from family and friends
Trusted Recommendations from online reviews
For our brand clients, we’ve been working in this direction with conviction. We’re thinking of branding projects as more than just single brand design packages. We’re working for the longer term, helping our clients make data-based decisions from the get-go that will wholly shape their customers’ brand experience. This post is by no means intended to serve as an exhaustive checklist or as a step-by-step guide on exactly how to build your brand. It’s meant to define the importance of a higher level shift in mindset; encouraging this customer-centric marketing approach to permeate every aspect of your business.
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