The tone you use when posting and commenting on Facebook, or what shade of red you choose for your logo are not what makes your brand successful.
A brand is much more than the sum of its parts and the strategy you put in place for your brand affects all areas of your business over a long time.
Considering your competition, demand, and emotional buy-in from your customers are vital to your brand. Even more important than your business name. Your business name might not survive the test of time, but your brand strategy will.
I have highlighted seven key components of a brand, and if you take your time to work on each of the components consistently, your company and customers will be happy.
What makes you work late nights, wake up in the morning and get to work is your brand purpose, and this is much more important than your business name and business card. If you can get your brand purpose right, be assured that you will outsmart all your competitors.
As a brand owner or brand custodian, your brand needs to be purposefully intentional in its messaging across the board, and this has to do with how your brand functions and why you do what you do.
Your brand purpose is more important than your brand logo and colour palette. This is the ‘what’ that gets you and your employees up in the morning. It is what keeps you going throughout the day. Your goal is the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors.
Dove is one of the most outstanding examples of a purposeful brand. Why? Because their mission is about something far more profound than just selling soap and hygiene products.
Dove is using its brand to help improve the self-esteem of its consumers. They have recognised that low self-esteem is a huge problem for so many people. When you visit their website, you learn how serious the problem is.
Through their #speakbeautiful movement, Dove seeks to help girls gain more confidence in their beauty. On social media, women tend to express negative thoughts about their looks. The #speakbeautiful movement encourages these women to use social media to say positive things about themselves and others.
Does this earn Dove a profit? Not directly. But it makes their brand easier to relate to and offers up a purpose that anyone can agree with. It is an excellent way for Dove to impact the world while making money.
When you define your brand purpose, it should not just be about making money; there must be a differentiator, which sets you apart from the competition.
2. Competitive Intelligence
Competitive intelligence is the DNA of every successful business strategy. Your company needs to understand where it stands within its market. This will ensure that your brand doesn’t operate in a vacuum.
Tracking what your competitors are doing will help you make smart, productive decisions – and know what to avoid – as it gives you valuable insights that will help you keep your customers.
With competitive intelligence comes the unique selling proposition that will set your brand apart and help you carve your niche, and this will help you stay on top of the marketing pyramid.
3. Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty comes into play when your customers love your brand, services, product and most importantly, what your brand represents. In this age and time, you need customers that will act as brand ambassadors for your brand.
You must cultivate the habit of recognising your loyal customers, featuring them on your website or sending a thank-you email – and working hard to turn customers in loyal brand advocates.
Some brands reward their customers’ loyalty but tend to forget the team that works for the brand. You can reinforce your brand perception among your team by also rewarding their dedication and commitment.
4. Emotional Appeal
Loyalty can come from your customers when you can give them more, go a mile further, and add love to the mix. Even more powerful? When customers feel they belong to a community, and your service is adding value to them.
Customers do not always make decisions based on what is cheaper or how well packaged your services are, but rather their sense of community and connection to your brand.
Apple has built a brand that taps into customers’ emotions over the years, thereby helping them convert indecisive ones to loyal customers and retaining them year on year.
5. Employee Engagement
Your team are the first individuals who interact with your brand; they need to feel part of the brand’s evolution in deciding what the brand stands for.
Marketing the brand is essential but living up to what it stands for is much more critical. This needs to be seen in the values the company has decided on, like growth and excellence, among other things.
Employee engagement is vital to a brand-building; this will help you reach your target and attract the best team of people to work for you.
Do you want to lock up shop and go out of business? Then cast your brand strategy in stone and leave no room for flexibility. Brand flexibility gives your brand room to adjust (if need be) to continually changing market demands and it will help set you apart.
Adaptability is key to your brand growth, and this can only happen when you understand the needs, wants and pain points of your customers. You need to adapt or face becoming irrelevant within your market.
Now, customers are looking for values entrenched in creative expression. Your brand must stand out while consistently delivering value at every engagement.
Consistency of your brand application at every touchpoint = a strong brand.
This is called brand alignment – this happens when everyone on your team knows, understands, and can excellently convey your key messages and brand values directly to customers at every touchpoint.
For consistency, your team members must be able to make sense of the brand story and how their role fits into it.
It is your job to make sure that the tone of your message, brand colours, look and feel of your images etc. delivered at each touchpoint are compelling and consistent.
Brand consistency is no accident. It is the direct result of a well-executed strategy. Creating formulated brand guidelines for both internal and external brand alignment and sticking to its vital elements at every touchpoint is an important part of building brand recognition, loyalty and a solid reputation.
The size of your brand strategy does not matter, but you must have one. Show me a good business result, and I will show you a strong brand strategy. Engaging the tools of knowledge and introspection and trying out new things will help you take your business to heights you never imagined. Try as much as possible to touch all the vital brand components I have highlighted above and watch your brand develop and grow!