Developing a unique and compelling brand is the best way to let your market know what you stand for and why they should pick you out of a line-up of seemingly identical offerings.
Here at Brand chemistry, we’ve always said that the first and most fundamental step to successful brand building is research – getting under the skin of your target customer, understanding your competitors and your market landscape.
But we were wrong. For many clients, there’s a step before research. And it’s fundamental to the success of their brand project: Understand Brand. What we’re talking about here is not only what specific brand terms mean, but what each brand element is used for.
Here’s the thing, too: we brand consultants haven’t helped things much. You see, we live these terms every day – we’ve studied them, used them across different methodologies across different agencies for years and years. So while they are easy for us to grasp, to many of our clients (who, by the way, are business analysts, technologists, lawyers and bankers – so, you know, pretty smart people), they are often a confusing shemozzle of concepts, exacerbated further by agencies who love to coin their own brand terms in order to put their own stamp on them and differentiate themselves from the rest.
So this week, we decided to minimize the head-scratching element of brand-building by setting the record straight on some of the most common brand misconceptions around. Here they are:
Misconception 1: brand position is your tagline
Your brand position is a simple statement that claims a ‘position’ for the brand in the minds of customers.
It describes the reason why customers would choose your brand above all others, and so should outline what your brand delivers to your customers: emotionally as well as practically.
This powerful brand element is 100% internal. Think of it as the brand’s ‘foundation’ – it can’t be seen from the outside but it’s crucial to a successful build. Or even better, a ‘how-to’ statement that tells you how you can win your customers’ hearts.
So, your brand position is not your tagline, but you can use it to brief creative on how to build the external look and feel of the brand, the tone of voice, and the tagline that will eventually help customers identify with the brand.
A tagline, on the other hand is an entirely different story! This is a short, catchy and memorable soundbite that communicates the brand essence in as few words as possible: Nike’s “just do it” is a popular example.
Misconception 2: Your logo is your brand
Many businesses still make the mistake of thinking their brand is their logo – and that’s it. Here they’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with their customers at an altogether higher level.
Great brands engage us, inspire us and generate emotion. These also tend to be the brands that define themselves through a well-thought-through positioning and strategy, then execute them in a way that encourages people to engage with, relate to and participate with the brand.
Think Apple. Think Old Spice. Think Virgin. Great brands are so much bigger than their logos. But businesses that still rely on their logo as the entire brand are using a kind of one-dimensional identifier that offers the equivalent one-dimensional returns.
Misconception 3: Brand is the sole responsibility of marketing
Your brand is the sum total of all experiences that your customer has with your brand.
Sure, we can help you define your brand position and steer you towards creating communications that deliver the message. But your customers’ experience of your brand, delivered via a call with your customer service team, could be at least as powerful as the brand communicated through your website or brochure. So it is essential that your brand is understood and owned by everyone in your organization.
Blueprinting your service delivery determines how your brand translates to human behaviours and language, and is a helpful way to ensure your team is creating consistent, branded experiences for your customers. However you choose to go about it, your people need to be aware that the brand is delivered by every single person in the organization, not just marketing.
Misconception 4: Good brands are exorbitantly expensive to build
Many business owners have been misinformed about the cost and time required to build a brand, thinking it means an endless investment in the traditional tools of brand building – big-ticket advertising, glossy literature, a costly website, and so on.
Connecting with your customers is actually more about listening, understanding their needs, and creating an honest, relevant brand based on these needs. The next step is connecting and encouraging participation with your customers, such as sharing content and inviting customers to submit their own. This kind of participation is so much easier with the age of social media that it can now take just a few short years to build a formidable brand – with the help of your most connected customers. Hardly a multi-billion dollar endeavour.
Misconception 5: Brands are not as important as a good product or service
In a world of completely rational beings, this would make perfect sense. But guess what? We’re emotional beings, and there’s plenty of research out there telling us that people make buying decisions based on instinct and emotions rather than logic. Yes, even in b2b.
Also, most products and services are easily imitated, and these days often at warp speed. They are probably the most replicable part of your business and the source of fierce competition. A strong brand is key to getting an emotional response from your prospects and customers, and developing that sense of connection with your organization that transcends your product and service features.
So yes, while high-performing, high-quality services and products are essential to an organisation’s enduring success, the brand that connects customers to you at a deeper, more emotional level is just as important.
To learn more about the different types of brand archetypes and how to harness their power, download our Hero, Explorer or Outlaw: Which archetype is your brand? ebook today.
Brand chemistry is a strategic brand agency. With more than 10 years experience building brands, we know what it takes to stand out amongst your competitors. Take a look at our client case studies to find out more.