Brand is about meaning. It is what your customers and audiences carry about you in their heads and hearts. It is what they feel, think, hear, imagine, and expect from you. Your brand is about your business values. It is what makes you stand out among your competitors. It is the context and story of your business and what you do. Your brand is not about the design, colors, and logo of your business. Most people think of these when they think about their brand. When thinking of your brand you need to see what you want to be remembered for. How you want your audiences to think about you, your services, or products.
One of the great examples of an outstanding brand is Nike. People usually associate Nike with these meanings: achievements, sport, design/technology, fashion, quality, expensive, high-profile sponsorship figures,…
When designing your brand you need to go through the meanings you want to associate with your business. That usually comes from your values, story behind your business, the purpose of what you are doing. Once you have these meanings set, you and all your employees should commit to these values and do the job on a daily basis accordingly.
According to Denise Lee Yohn, brand building consultant and author of “What Great Brands Do” there are 7 principles that great brands follow. You can build a powerful brand following these same 7 principles:
1) Great brands start inside
Develop greatness among your employees. Make sure your employees know about the meanings and values of your brand. You need to train them on how they can best perform to deliver greatness to the customers.
For a quick fix, analyse your business and find the gaps between what the values are being said and what is actually being performed.
Culture is the first step when you are going to define your brand. All employees should focus on making the great, unique customer experiences based on the values of the business.
2) Great brands avoid selling products.
Make emotional connection with your consumers. Ads should be about customers. Nike’s Just Do It ad is a great example. This ad is not about Nike’s products superiority. It is all about their customers. It is about consumer achievements.
As Yohn says:” People make product decisions based on how that product make them feel. And product features are secondary that only serve the support to that emotional connection”.
3) Great brands sweat the small stuff
Every communication matters. Pay attention to every single detail. Every communication and interaction with your customers should follow your values and brands’ meanings. Customer experience has a great impact on your business success.
4) Great brands never have to give back
Yohan says “Great brands have no need to “give back” to society in the form of charitable contributions because they employ a more integrated approach, as they do in all aspects of their business”.
These brands create shared values for their employees, customers, investors and communities and they use the power of their brands to inspire change to have a beneficial impact on the society.
5) Great brands commit and stay committed
To build a strong brand commit to the core of your brand. There will be temptations and pressures to make changes to your brand especially by competitors priorities, organizational politics, reaching your top-line revenue goals. But bringing your focus to the core of your brand and staying committed is a good way to stay away from those temptations.
One example is Shake Shack’s restaurant. The CEO is willing to sacrifice short-term profit to maintain brand integrity. “We get asked to cater all the time, but we fight it” says Garutti CEO of Shake Shack. “We want you to come to Shake Shack. We had even bought the vehicle but I wasn’t convinced the product would be as good and so we scrapped the idea and ate the investment’.
6) Great brands don’t chase customers
Great brands don’t chase customers. They attract their ideal customers by staying true to what they stand for.
Brands with confidence and integrity attract loyal and high quality customers.
Lululemon CEO says in response to the fact that their products are priced a good deal higher than their competitors that “ If you want the cheapest product out there, there are plenty of places where you can find what you’re looking for. But you’d be hard-pressed to find the level of quality and innovation in fabrics and finishes that we offer. And there’s a cost with doing that, so that’s why our prices are what they are. We don’t try to appeal to everybody.”
7) Great brands ignore trends
Trends are trends. They come and go. It might be tempting for a short-term attraction to go with trends. But they change quickly and by following trends you would put your brand identity at risk. “If you are out to build a brand, you have to know what is real and right for you” Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue.