Some brands are stronger than others. What they say matches what they do and they stand out from the crowd, giving them a competitive advantage. But how can you build a strong brand? We believe to build a strong brand, you should focus on these five elements.
- Taking a stand (positioning)
- Thinking strategically (role)
- Being proud to stand out (differentiation)
- Adapting before others (sustainability)
- Being seen in the right circles (visibility)
Taking a stand (positioning)
Strong brands have a defined positioning (or purpose or promise) – the underlying essence of the brand or what it stands for. More and more customers, especially millennials, are choosing brands for more than just the features of the product or service. Through the brand positioning you show your customers that you have a larger purpose beyond making money.
An example is Patagonia. They sell durable outdoor clothing, however, what drives their brand is a promise to create sustainable clothing while preserving the environment.
Thinking strategically (role)
Strong brands are considered one of a company’s strategic assets, so they have clearly defined roles for each audience they want to attract. Some brands may be all about the customer, while other brands need to attract customers, employees and shareholders. Understanding the role your brand plays in attracting different audiences is key to ensuring the right marketing and messages are undertaken.
An example is Suncorp. Their brand is used to sell products to customers, attract and retain staff and shareholders. So, how the brand is presented and positioned to each audience requires clarity and strategic thinking to ensure their marketing, communications and experiences align and are part of the same story.
Being proud to stand out (differentiation)
Strong brands stand out from the crowd because of a point of difference that gives a product, service or business an edge over competitors. Sometimes it is the ‘where’ and ‘how’ a product is made or distributed that it gives it that edge, or it can be the positioning or identity. Differentiation may come from a single factor or a combination of these factors. Either way, it’s important to know what your point of difference is and how you can ensure competitors don’t replicate it.
An example is Apple. They continue to differentiate from competitors across many aspects of their business, however, the use of ‘integration’, both within the technology used across their products and also in the delivery of their customer experience, is challenging to replicate.
Adapting before others (sustainability)
Strong brands are sustainable because they adapt to changing environments and market influences, such as customer trends or regulatory changes.
One of the most famous examples of a brand that didn’t adapt or remain sustainable is Kodak. They invented the digital camera and owned the camera and film market in the 80s, but the one thing that their business didn’t focus on was the thing that everyone started wanting – the digital camera. Failing to adapt and respond to customer needs ultimately ruined their brand and business.
Being seen in the right circles (visibility)
Not everyone needs to know your brand but the right audiences do. Being known by the right audiences gives your brand equity. This is why it’s important to have a strong marketing strategy and promote your brand to your audience through the channels they use.
An example is Shannons Insurance, a specialist motor insurance brand that is very prominent and well known within the motor enthusiasts market. Everything about their marketing, including their language, visual identity, and their use of social media as a marketing channel is targeted at people who love cars.
Creating a brand is one thing, but to really make it work for your business, make sure it’s known, understood, visible, credible, and seen as ‘unique’ in the minds of the right people.