Do you have a brand?
In our world of nano-second attention and online-everything, one thing hasn’t changed.
Your brand influences buyer decisions and impacts revenue results.
It can also be your competitive advantage.
The good news is you don’t have to be Apple, Tesla, or Versace to build a powerful brand.
Before we jump into how to build a successful brand, let’s clarify what is a brand.
What is a brand?
Your brand is what differentiates you from the competition and is “your promise to your customer.” (1)
A brand differentiates something or someone from its competition and instills trust, simplifies choice by reducing risk, spurs demand, and creates pricing power and – all being well – builds loyalty and creates value over time.
My updated book The Guiding Purpose Strategy includes lessons from some of the most powerful brands, like Harley-Davidson, Aston Martin, Ferrari, global financial services firms, government institutions, charities, and tech startups.
We all have our favorite brands:
Every motorcycle has two wheels, but only one brand – Harley-Davidson – offers something people are willing to pay a huge premium for.
When the iPhone was introduced in 2007 it was a hit with the die-hard Apple enthusiasts. Since then the iPhone/Apple brand has won the hearts (and wallets) of 39% of the smartphone market. (2)
The Land Rover brand promises the rugged, steep, muddy experience of off-road adventures even though 99% of their vehicles are driven on smoothly paved and mostly urban roads. (3)
All of these popular brands have one thing in common:
They all lead with emotion and justify with rationality. Or, in marketing terms: they sell the benefit and deliver the features.
Why your brand is important
Your brand is more than a fancy logo or signature at the bottom of your email. A strong brand offers benefits beyond the rationality of your product, service, and especially price.
A successful brand can “enhance the image of individual products, help firms recruit and retain employees, and provide protection against reputational damage in times of trouble.”(4)
Let’s break these benefits down to 3 of the most valuable results your brand can offer:
1. Instills trust
Trust is the cornerstone of enduring client relationships in any business. And trust is what keeps your clients coming back in difficult times. In this article, I argue that in troubled times consumers are learning to trust unicorns, like Tesla.
2. Simplifies choice
We’ve all gone the extra block to a Starbucks or made reservations to ensure a seat at a favorite restaurant. A clear, inspiring brand simplifies the choice for the customer.
3. Creates pricing power
Well-known companies like Apple, BMW, and Rolex command higher market prices based on a combination of branding and superior product.
Meanwhile, a well-executed brand strategy can add pricing power when product superiority is maybe less obvious, like with Lululemon, Starbucks, and clothing brands like Louis Vuitton.
Now, what about you?
So far, I’ve mentioned lots of well-known, international brands, but here’s the mistake to avoid…
don’t think you have to have a marketing team and a big budget to create a brand that differentiates you from the competition.
It all starts with the 5 principles of a successful brand.
5 Principles of a Successful Brand Marketing
Before you get lost in logos, company colors, or redesigning your website, consider the 5 principles of every great brand.
1. Start from within
There is a reason why you do what you do that goes beyond making sales. It is your Guiding Purpose Strategy. Learn how you can apply my GPS Framework to create your own Guiding Purpose Strategy.
2. Expand on your differences
Every company and team is unique. Your brand should emphasize that uniqueness and make it a strength.
3. Speak to your customer
Communicate to the people in your market so they feel recognized and understood (for a brilliant example of select marketing see Apple’s 1984 ad). (5)
4. Be consistent
Everything you communicate needs to be through the lens of your brand personality, including website, emails, advertising, and social media.
5. Be yourself
Customers crave authenticity. Allow your team’s personality to come through your brand.
How to get started
Building a brand that differentiates you in the market goes beyond merely changing your logo. The strategy process needs to involve your own reflection, market research, and ideally, an outside party to provide an objective perspective and what is important and what isn’t.
As an entrepreneur or manager, success depends on discovering and applying new solutions. My new program, The Brand Marketing Booster will give you new insights and tools to help you expand the brand and marketing skills you need to succeed in business.
- Branding Definition (Entrepreneur magazine): The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol, or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.
- History of iPhone sales since 2007. (Statista.com)
- Sales volume of Land Rover cars from 2008 to 2019, by region (Statista.com)
- What Does Your Corporate Brand Stand For? (HBR) by Stephen A. Greyser and Mats Urde
- The “1984” American television commercial by Chiat/Day and directed by Ridley Scott introduced the Apple Macintosh personal computer for the first time.