Banner image credit to Nike
Today’s consumer is more likely to choose a branded product like Nike sneakers, an Apple iPhone or Netflix movie compared to a no-name product that they have never heard of before. Just because of this desire for a positive association, brands like Apple and Coca-Cola are worth millions if not billions. Unfortunately, most people think a brand is just a good-looking logo and bright colours, and that’s wrong. There is a lot that goes into a good brand and this article will share some insights into the brand development process that leads to memorable brands.
Step 1: Brand strategy
The first step in developing a good brand is a brand strategy. A well-defined and executed brand strategy with a vibrant concept and ideas affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer emotions, needs, and competitive environments. A great example of a well-executed brand strategy would be of Coca-Cola. What began in 1886 as a syrup mixed with carbonated water and sold at soda-fountains in the American South is now a global, multi billion-dollar brand. It achieved this success through a carefully planned and consistently executed strategy aimed at making Coke popular, trusted, sought-after, and successful.
It’s easy to get caught up in the short-term tactics that drive business today, but when it comes to building a vibrant brand, a long-term approach is a must. Brands aren’t built overnight, so your brand strategy shouldn’t be focused on short-term gains but rather on long-term goals and sustainable growth through appropriate positioning, targeting and communication. Instead of focusing on short-term tactics, brand managers or owners are urged to become brand architects which enable teams to design a lasting structure “to bridge brand strategy and brand messaging.”
Without a strong brand foundation built on a well-defined strategy, brands have little chance for success. A SMART brand strategy is an essential component of any business because it affects every area of your business. It won’t be easy though!
Step 2: Brand essence
The second step after defining your brand strategy is defining a brand essence that will help you implement this strategy and succeed. Think of a brand essence as the core characteristic which defines a brand, an intangible attribute that separates your brand from your competition’s brand. It is the essential feeling evoked in your audience when they hear your brand name. This is the same as a personality if your brand was a person.
BMW makes all of their product and strategic decisions by asking the question: “will this make the experience a pleasure for our drivers?” Where Audi has pushed its technological advantage, and Mercedes has gone for status, BMW is singularly focused on making their experience in the car thoroughly pleasurable. This focus on experience permeates all aspects of their business.
Usually, companies define their brand essence by using a couple of words – like Nike’s ‘Innovation and Inspiration’ and evidently, we see innovation and inspiration in everything Nike does and sells – be it its shoes, TV ads, or sponsored events. A deep brand essence will help a business achieve better marketing, maintain consistency and appeal to higher customer expectations. A brand essence is defined in a brands vision, mission and values. Companies need to create a brand essence that offers value to their customers and stand as the stronghold in times where utility fails.
Step 3: Visual Identity- Naming, Logo, Corporate colours
The third step, which becomes the face of the brand is the visual identity and it is expressed through creative design and use of colour which will culminate into brand elements like a logo, logo elements, fonts, corporate colours etc. In general terms, a corporate visual identity expresses the values and ambitions of an organization or business using the above stated visual elements. Let’s use a very general example, a hard-core biker can be identified by the way they dress i.e. leather pants and jackets plus a helmet whilst the common business executive can be identified by their suits, shirts, ties and shiny shoes. The same concept applies to a visual identity.
Air Bnb is one brand that has a great visual identity. Airbnb promised to transform the way people travel, enabling them to explore the world, not as a tourist, but to truly ‘Belong Anywhere’. Most companies get it wrong by designing a brand visual identity that matches their competition, with similar messaging, resulting in copycat marketing campaigns. Companies need to come up with visual identities that differentiate them from their competition and easy to recognize by their customers.
Step 4: Brand collateral
Last but not least is the definition of brand collateral. This section defines simple things like how you want brochures, letterheads, flyers, banners, billboards, TV ads, business cards etc. to look like considering the brand decisions made in the previous steps. No point trying to be perceived as a cool brand using tired brand collateral.
When doing a sales pitch, for example, your packaging, business cards, brochures or exhibition stands form the first impression about your brand and that impression is translated into product or service quality expectations. Intentionality in expressing a brand identity through collateral helps build recognition and recognition builds real brand awareness. It’s important for your customers to instantly recognize your brand whenever they come into contact with it.
When someone recognizes a logo, colour or typeface as belonging to a certain brand, that’s recognition, and it’s built through consistently staying in front of your customers using different forms of brand collateral. Unfortunately, most companies lose the race the moment they start looking at marketing collateral as unnecessary expenses not realizing the major role it plays in keeping a brand in their audience’s mind.
“A brand is a promise. So, trustworthy promises – make credible, powerful brands which create strong market positions for which people are willing to pay a premium.” BJ Cunningham
At Solution Space we create memorable brands that land you loyal customers, get in touch with us and find out how we can help you turn your business into a brand. Don’t get a logo, rather develop a brand, it will pay off in the long run.