A powerful brand accomplishes many things at once. It creates a solid emotional connection with its target audience, delivers clear and concise messaging, motivates the buyer or decision maker, and establishes or reinforces consumer brand loyalty.
When building a new brand or repositioning a mature one, it is essential for brand managers to first understand what makes successful brands so successful in the first place. To do so, we will define three common brand types, offer examples of thriving brands in each category, and highlight their commonalities.
Brand Brands Everywhere
There are many types of brands, and, while distinct, each is built using very similar core strategies. A sampling of brand types you may encounter daily include:
- Personal Brands – The personal-branding concept applies to individuals who market themselves, and suggests that success comes from highly strategic self-packaging. Consider Martha Stuart, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan or Madonna. Each is well known not only for their accomplishments in business, on the court, or on stage, but also for the time and effort put into the marketing of themselves and their personal brand. The result? Multi-billion dollar empires. All of them.
- Product Brands – Most often a Consumer Packaged Good (CPG), product branding pertains to how a product interacts with its consumer audience through design, logo, and messaging accomplished via media such as internet, print, television or digital advert. Coca-Cola, Starbucks and LEGO are prime examples of highly successful brands that fall at numbers 4, 61 and 91 respectively on Forbes list of The World’s Most Valuable Brands.
- Luxury Brands – Known for the status and exclusivity they offer, the ultra-stylish, luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and Mercedes Benz focus on justifying the price tag by using high value-based marketing that showcases the quality, craftsmanship, superior materials or outstanding service consumers can expect.
Although different, each brand must leverage similar strengths, strategies and tactics to engage its audience, motivate the buyer or decision maker, and establish brand loyalty. Regardless of whether a brand is five weeks, five years, or five decades old, all brands must accomplish those same objectives in order to prosper.
It’s likely your brand does not yet enjoy the same brand equity (i.e., value derived from consumer perception of the brand name rather than from the product or service itself) as Michael Jordan, Starbucks, or Louis Vuitton, and that’s okay. It’s to our benefit to examine successful brands’ in order to gain valuable insight on how to build a better brand.
Key Methods to Build a Better Brand
Thriving brands experience growth and evolution. Successful brand builders know it’s important to assess their brand regularly and make adjustments when necessary. Consider using the simple SWOT Analysis. This is a basic, straightforward model that assesses what a brand can and cannot easily accomplish, as well as potential opportunities and threats it may encounter. This is achieved by using the data from an environmental analysis and segmenting it into internal (SW: strengths and weaknesses) and external issues (OT: opportunities and threats). Once completed, SWOT determines what may assist the brand in accomplishing its objectives, and what obstacles must first be overcome or minimized in order to achieve desired results.
Top Brands all deliver distinctive value. It is imperative that marketers not only understand this intrinsic value in order to compete meaningfully in the marketplace, but that it is communicated effectively with a well established value proposition. If you are unsure of how to do so, begin with a BLAC/White Analysis. Determine whether your brand is BLAC (Blatant, Latent, Aspirational, and Critical) and whether it addresses a WHITE space in the marketplace, allowing you to capitalize on an open area of opportunity. Leverage your results to develop a strong value proposition.
Brand managers understand the value of the long term consumer relationship in order to properly appreciate and maintain it. They must connect with their audience regularly on an authentic, emotional level in order to foster brand loyalty. Every brand has a story to tell, and today more than ever, brands of all sizes leverage the power of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to engage their audience and tell that story.
To maximize your brand’s potential, it should exist within a rising category in the marketplace. The key to brand longevity is sustained significance, and knowledgeable marketers understand how vital it is to consistently enforce brand relevance within their demographic and beyond. To establish brand relevancy, you might choose to perform a Gain/Pain Analysis, which measures the gain your brand delivers the consumer vs. the pain and cost for the consumer to adopt. The results can be leveraged to support brand significance.
There are infinite measures that can be taken to build or strengthen a brand. With consistency and commitment, every brand, whether mature or in its infancy, can engage, motivate, and connect emotionally with its demographic, securing the brand loyalty necessary for sustained growth.