You've heard the saying: "a house is only as strong as its foundation."
In that same way, a brand is only as strong as its foundation. You might think about your brand like a house: if the foundation isn't solid and secure, then no matter how beautiful or expensive it looks on the outside, the inside will be in disarray.
Brand-building is a complicated process that requires a lot of time and resources. When we think about brands, we tend to focus on the positive. We want our brand to be known for something great, something people will love and share. But if you want a brand, that's successful — that makes people care — you have to understand what not to do.
Not having a strategy in place
If you're going to build a brand, have a strategy. It's not as simple as just putting together some clever ads and hoping for the best. A great brand strategy is a roadmap for your brand — it's how you will build and sustain it.
It should be based on your core purpose, values and goals (i.e., what do you want people to think about when they hear or see your name?). It should also be clear, concise and compelling enough that everyone involved in the process — from employees all the way up through executives — can easily understand it and apply it at every stage of development.
Brand building is much more than advertising.
Brand building occurs at every interaction (customer experience phase) between your brand and your customers - struggle (pre-purchase), evaluation (purchase) and growth (post-purchase). For most businesses, it's impossible to invest in all three stages heavily. The best companies pick one and double down.
Failing to focus
In order to build your brand, you have to focus on what you can control. You need to know what makes your business unique, and then focus on those strengths.
Start by asking yourself: What do I know? What am I good at? Put the customer at the centre, and then look at the experience holistically around the brand and then look at the competitors and where’s the opportunity to stand out, where’s the variance, where’s world headed — whether it be in terms of technology or culture or whatever — and where with my limited capital I could have biggest ROI? Where can I become world-class relative to other participants in my category?
Differentiation is about what makes your brand stand out from the competition, and it's also what makes your customers remember you. If you can't answer these questions: Why would I buy from this company instead of another? What makes this product or service different? You'll have trouble standing out in a crowded marketplace.
However, many companies neglect differentiation because they don't know how to identify what makes their business truly unique. Instead of taking the time necessary to identify what makes them different from others in their industry or category, they rush into building their brand with little thought about why customers would choose them over other options available on the market today.
Not being relevant
As the saying goes, "you can't please everyone." A brand that tries too hard to do so will end up pleasing no one. In order to build a successful brand, you must be relevant.
Does anyone care? Is our point of differentiation relevant to our customers? Does it matter to them? The key to building a successful brand is knowing who your target audience is and what they want from you — and then delivering it consistently. Make sure that your branding efforts apply to your customers by understanding their needs, wants, and desires.
Being relevant doesn't mean being all things for all people. It means making choices about what kind of company you want to be — and sticking with them over time so that people know exactly what they're getting when they choose your product or service over another one like yours in the marketplace.
Not creating sustainability
As brand-building experts, we've noticed that many companies fail to create sustainability around their brands. In order to build a sustainable brand, it must be able to repeat its success over and over again — and that means creating a strong foundation for the future by focusing on what makes us different from our competitors and why people should buy from us instead of them (or any other competitor).
The reason for this is simple: The company has not identified its core assets (or lack thereof) that will allow them to own its differentiation and relevance in the eyes of consumers. How do we create sustainability around us? What assets do we bring so we can own our differentiation and relevance? How do we protect and defend it?
When it comes to brand building, positioning and capital allocation the choices often feel infinite. The right strategy will allow you to focus on what matters most.
It's important to make sure that your brand is differentiated from its competition and relevant to consumers. But you also need sustainability so that others cannot easily replicate what makes your business unique or successful in the long term. By asking these three questions:
- Is our brand differentiated from our competition?
- Is it relevant to customers?
- And is it sustainable (or simply put; can we own it)?
These will be your guide to how to create a strong brand.
The key to brand-building success is not a secret. It's what not to do. The best way to build your brand is by not doing what everyone else does. Think outside of the box and don't just follow trends. Look at all aspects of your business and try something new.