What do branding and marketing specialists know that you don’t?
Have you ever wondered what companies like McDonalds or Coca-Cola did to become the global icons they are today? Companies that have built themselves into star brands have several things in common. Analyzing the branding strategies of these companies can help you launch your own business in a manner that maximizes your chances for success.
Building a brand requires the same care that you would use in developing any major asset. In many ways, your brand is your company’s most prized possession. Without a strong brand identity, you will have a difficult, if not impossible, time infusing yourself into the industry. Fortunately, companies that have come before you have left a pretty clear road map. Following their footsteps can lead you down the same road to success.
Star brands have several things in common. First of all, successful companies have clear brand values. Every element of your marketing campaign should clearly communicate those values. Your brand is your reputation and your promise of value. Customers need to know what results they can expect when they do business with your company. Inconsistent or confusing messages can torpedo a company before it even gets off the ground.
Another common feature among the top brands in the world is the identification of Unique Selling Points (USP). You need to determine what makes your business attractive and unique. Every industry is saturated with competition. If you do not differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack, you will surely get lost in the sea of similarity. What can you offer your target market that others cannot? Why should potential customers give your company a second look and leave existing companies behind? If you cannot answer those questions, you will not be able to communicate a strong message to your customer base. Your company’s USPs should form the central theme of your brand strategy. Without it, you will look like just another company that can, and will, be ignored.
Communicating a clear brand message to your target market is another feature of star brands. This has been made more difficult thanks to the explosion of social media. It is paramount that companies understand that every social media interaction needs to communicate the message you want your target market to hear. Many companies have found themselves in hot water after a post or shared picture that was meant to be harmless. Every time your company is put into the public eye, there can be negative repercussions. That means that everyone from the president of the company down to the maintenance workers need to be aware that they represent the company brand at all times. When everyone is sharing the same message with the world, customers will come to trust your company. A business’ reputation is one of its most important assets.
Many of the world’s star brands have several other features in common. As mentioned above, following the lead of companies like Nike or Apple can lead you down the same path. Whether you are a company composed of thousands of employees or just a handful, you can learn from those that have come before you. Specifically, star brands share the following attributes:
I touched on this issue above in terms of communicating your brand message. Consistency needs to extend far deeper into your organization, however. When the typical customer walks into a Target store, he/she expects certain things. That is the promise that has been delivered by the company. If a customer fails to receive those promises, the brand image suffers. Consistency in all areas of business is a must if you want to build a strong brand reputation. In addition, long-term consistency leads to credibility. In turn, credibility breeds loyalty among a company’s customer base. Credibility brings people back and keeps them walking through the doors for many years to come.
A strong brand is clear on its target market. Trying to appeal to every customer will spread your brand too thin. Instead, identifying the customers that you feel your company will strike a chord with can help you maximize your marketing efforts. Who is your brand message intended for? Which segment of society will appreciate your brand values? Understanding your target market can help you position yourself correctly both within the industry and beyond.
Companies that don’t push themselves to remain innovative and progressive have short shelf lives. Especially in today’s fast-paced and technologically enhanced society, people are looking for the next big thing at all times. Companies that survive and thrive in the long-term are those that refuse to rest on their laurels. All one has to do to understand this point is to look at an industry like the automobile industry. Every year, car companies jockey for position in the industry by offering new and advanced features that sets their vehicles apart. Those companies that don’t ride the wave of change are quickly passed by. There is no such thing as a resting point on the road to success.
This attribute was discussed above in terms of a company’s USPs. Establishing what makes your company unique can only be done with the factors outlined above. Consistency and proper positioning will allow your brand to establish its uniqueness. How is Reebok different from the other companies in the sporting goods industry? What makes a Toshiba product better or worse than a similar product made by Sony? The most successful brands in the world have established themselves as different is some way. When that uniqueness is communicated effectively and consistently to customers, a strong brand is born.
It is not enough for a company to be unique; they also need to be appealing to their target market. If a customer is not attracted by the promise your brand makes or interested in the values you communicate, they will not give you their business. It is that simple. Different and better are two different things, unless those differences are attractive in some way. Why should customers care about your brand? What can it do for them? What does the brand stand for? Customers that cannot answer these questions for themselves will undoubtedly go elsewhere. Once again, consistency is vital to the establishment of the types of relationships you want to develop.
What does a customer think of when it hears the name Nike or Apple? How have they been able to establish themselves as industry leaders? Figuring that out can be your first strong step towards a successful business. Developing a strong brand will increase the value of your company. Marketing and business leaders often use the term “brand equity.” The ability of a company to charge more money for their goods and services because of the strength of their brand is considered brand equity.
Why do customers pay substantially more for a pair of Nike tennis shoes? How has Apple managed to remain at the top of the cell phone industry? Companies like these have enormous brand equity because of the consistency, credibility, positioning, sustainability, uniqueness, and appeal of their brand.
Do they know something you don’t? Fortunately, the answer is not anymore.