Brand Building (Mini Series Part III)
Apple Crowds (Mail On Line)

How to build a brand?  I have briefly written about this subject before.

A few years ago I couldn’t care less about brand.  I was one of those people that just looked at the ROI.  When an  business generates +90% of sales through paid on line advertising it was only ever the ROI that mattered.  Of course, I was wrong.  Very wrong.  The problems begin when the costs of paid marketing go up and ROI goes down.  If one has no organic traffic, low repeat rates, low awareness and no direct traffic, what do you do?

You invest.  Invest in brand.  If you can’t invest over the long term then the business is, in time, doomed.  At least thats my opinion.

So what is brand?  run a google search and you’ll find a lot of answers.

Simply, its what makes the company stand out.  A brand can be (and usually is) made up of many factors (product, design, logo, focus, values, culture etc..).  But whats important though is that it’s customers who decide what your brand is.

In essence, your company wants to stand for something and it makes that promise to customer. So long as that promise is kept all is well.  As soon as customers believe that promise is broken then what you believe your brand to be and what customers believe your brand to be are two different things.  Not good.

Once customers are satisfied and remember you whilst assisting your company with the vision you would like you begin to create brand equity.  Lets not underestimate brand equity.  I thought it was a term of waffle but i remembered  Sold in 2005 for almost £600m despite being a loss making business.  WTF?!  indeed.  Brand Equity.

Monty The Penguin (John Lewis)
Monty The Penguin (John Lewis)

So how to build a brand?

Part one – what do you stand for?  loads of people think this is a waste of time and has no value.  I think it has massive value and is one of the most important exercises any management team can undertake.  My reasoning is that everyone in the business needs a mission.  Teams want to be part of a journey.  So tell them the plan and how they fit into it!  if everyone knows the plan and what is being built then they become free.  They;re autonomous because whenever they make a decision they have an anchor point.  The can evaluate the decision against the anchor.  If it fits then green light.  If it doesn’t then bin it and move on.

So, part one is decide what your business stands for, what promises you’re making and why customers should remember you.  Then tell everyone.

Part two:  walk the walk.  This might sound obvious but once you know what you stand for then ensure everything you do and everything your team does supports that vision and those values.  This is easier said than done because it inevitably means some tough decisions will crop up  However, it also mens you’ll have unwavering focus and this gives you speed.

A word of warning here, despite the above paragraph the management and specifically the CEO must watch out to ensure the business is the on the right track.  Sometimes material directional changes may have to take place and sometimes this may have an affect on the brand.

Part three:  Look the part!  So, you know what your brand is, your team do.  Now you’ve got to start to build your brand with your customers.  Brand is intangible.  Its what your customers think of your business and what you deliver to them.  Your job is to facilitate the forming of perception and that starts with the basics:  Design, Language, Asthetics.  One cannot overlook the important of great visuals and customer interaction.  Font type and size matters.  Colour matters.  Words matter.  This all becomes easier if the brand is represented by someone because  the language used and the interaction is dictated by them (think Richard Branson).

Part four:  Get out there!:  You know what your business stands for, your team do.  The business looks that part and communicates the part.  Now you need to let customers know what you’re all about.  So, we get into marketing channels (see part one of the mini series).  The only comment I’d make here is that brand activity should be ongoing.  There is little point running a campaign once.  If so, this becomes an awareness campaign which might be the right thing to do but if one would like to embed your brand with customers then ongoing activity is required.  easier said than done with no budget.

Part five:  Keep going.  keep evolving.  The evolution of a logo is interesting.  Take Google, their logo has evolved rather a lot since they began but no change has been a complete change in direction.  Their company structure has changed.  has this mission changed?  it started as making the worlds information easily accessible.  This page is worthing check out, it details the foundations of the companies philosophy.

So, as you can see, not only do I think a brand is fundamentally important as it dictates what you do but also there is an awful lot that goes into it.  It takes on board philosophy, ideology and ambition.  It’s a very exciting and sexy part of running a business but beneath the glamour is a core foundation and for me, one which should not be overlooked.


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