Remember my name: Creating a brand that sticks
This month, we’re lucky enough to feature Verity Craft from Intelligent Ink, who shares her expert knowledge on branding and storytelling.
So you want to build your brand. But what exactly is your brand? Sure, it’s your name, your logo, the way your ads looks, the way your signs look… But it’s also so much more than that! It’s also the messages you use, the way you communicate with your customers and prospective customers, and the experience those customers get when they visit your site, do business with you, or come in-store. All those things together help people identify your organisation’s product and differentiate you from your customers.
Done well, your brand can help you to build trust, connections, credibility and value in the mind of your customers, which makes a strong, positive brand essential. So how can you make sure your brand is done well? How can you make sure your brand stays relevant, and ensure that you’re consistently communicating a strong brand identity?
Every brand needs a plan
First steps first – your brand identity, messaging, and behaviour should all be driven by your business plan. In other words, to create and maintain a strong brand strategy, you first need to know what your business vision and goals are. Knowing where you’re going will help you know how you want to get there. Once you know your business goals, it’s time to create a brand strategy.
As you’re creating a strong brand strategy, consider the 3 Ps (Purpose, Potential, and Promise):
- Purpose: What is the purpose of your brand and business? What does it value?
- Potential: Realistically consider your ability to achieve your brand goals. For instance, if you aspire to be the top performer in your industry, do you have the time, money and resources to achieve that? Create your own niche and unique position in the market in comparison to the competition.
- Promise: What do you have to offer to your audience and how are you going to deliver this? What makes you stand out from your competitors? How do you fulfil the brand’s purpose within your potential?
The answers to these questions will allow you to develop an in-depth understanding of the business’ current situation, where it wants to be and what it can achieve. Whilst doing this, ruthlessly assess what the business really is, considering what is good and bad about it. Only by honestly assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your organisation, can you develop a brand communication strategy that will improve the business.
Your brand isn’t about you
Here’s something that we all forget about constantly – your brand isn’t actually about your business. It’s about what that business means to your customers.
While you’re developing your brand identity, messaging, and experience, your customer should be your number one focus. What do they need? What problem are they facing? How can you make their life better?
The key here is to identify your distinct target audience and cater everything to them. Much as you might like to, you can’t appeal to everyone – so don’t try.
Making sure that your brand message appeals to your target market and is unique within the current market is vital. In such a competitive market, your brand needs to have a unique story, customer relevance, and a little X factor to cut through. It’s all about figuring out the point of difference that is relevant to your audience and owning it!
Communicating what makes you special
One of the most important bits (or in our minds, the most important bit!) of any brand strategy is understanding how you’ll communicate your brand – in other words, your key messages. So often people get stuck talking about their customer service, quality, trust, knowledge, blah blah blah… It all sounds kind of boring, and VERY familiar to anyone who’s ever dealt with any business!
If all companies are using these words, then they’re not really points of difference – and if they’re not points of difference, they shouldn’t be the focus of your messaging. You’re trying to communicate what makes you special so consider how you can communicate the real things that set you apart – is it a particular process that gets a better result, or is it the way that you solve a particular frustration? Why do you do what you do better than your competitors? When it comes to planning out how you’ll communicate, remember the magic word – why.
Story over product
Back in the day, it used to be that you could have a good product or service, and that was all you needed to succeed; you were only selling to your local area anyway. In today’s internet-driven, content-heavy, over-saturated world, you need more than a good product. These days, a good story is the key to cutting through the noise.
Research has shown that customers are more likely to buy from a company after seeing a story-based ad than a ‘sales-y’ ad, and consumers have even said they prefer it if brands tell stories. Your brand’s story must be brought to life in everything you do, from your products or services to staff to communications.
Nurture your brand
In order to maintain its value and credibility in the market, a brand needs some pretty consistent love. Your brand messaging, identity, and experience should be consistently looked at to make sure it’s still relevant – then shared and nurtured with your team, your customers, and the market as a whole. This is particularly important when you consider that in today’s digital age, business never sleeps and social media connects everyone 24/7.
People can now engage with an organisation at any time, from anywhere, and information can spread globally in an instant. As a result, your social media should be constantly monitored and utilised to protect and share your brand. Depending on how it is used, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for accumulating supporters and/or opposition.
When it comes down to it, building and maintaining a strong brand is about four things:
- Aligning your brand with your business plan
- Focusing on your customers
- Communicating what makes you special
- Consistently nurturing and adjusting your brand
Follow those four steps, and you’ll be well on your way to a world-class brand. Still having trouble communicating your brand message? We’re here to help!
If you’d like an analysis of how your social media strategy is sharing your brand story, and how it can be improved, we offer FREE Social Media Audit’s to all New Zealand businesses. You can get yours here: