7 Brand Elements Any Company Can Build
Branding isn’t only for major consumer-oriented products (aka CPG products). Business-oriented products (aka B2B), services, not-for-products and solopreneurs also have brands that augment the value of their organizations over the long term.
Being a Millward Brown BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brand translates to profitability over time regardless of economic conditions. (Source: Millward Brown)
- The 2012 BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands had a total brand value of $2.4 trillion.
- The BrandZ™ portfolio of highly valued brands outperformed the S&P 500 by 103% between 2006 and 2012.
- The BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands grew 66% in value between 2006 and 2012.
To build your brand, regardless of size, so it contributes to your organization’s value in the long term, requires planning. Here are seven brand attributes inspired by Millward Brown’s analysis and actionable marketing tactics to develop your brand.
- Provide value to consumers. Regardless of the product category or price range, consumers must believe that the brand delivers incremental value, especially in a social media connected world where consumers talk about the good, bad and ugly of your offering. In today’s marketplace, buyers seek value. Research by Nielsen showed that this was a challenge for brands. Actionable Marketing Tip: Understand your target market and their needs. Go one step further to examine why they purchase your product versus your competitor or the store brand.
- Be relevant to your customers. Having a history as a brand is important and contributes to a brand’s value, but today’s buyers want more. They expect your brand to be right for their lifestyle. In today’s marketplace, this means being where your prospects are whether it’s in stores, computers, smartphones or tablets. Actionable Marketing Tip: Every organization needs a cross channel presence where their prospects are and seek them regardless of your target segment. If you can’t be available on a specific platform, consider how prospects can reach you. For example, Amazon and eBay use mobile apps to compensate for their lack of physical presence.
- Extend your brand beyond the physical product. Historically marketers have considered products as their core attributes (What makes up the product’s core functionality? What does it do?), the actual product (What does it look like? How does it perform? What quality is it?) and the augmented product (What else does the consumer get with the product (includes status, content to help use it, other information (aka content marketing)). In today’s content-rich environment, consumers expect to engage with your firm and your information across devices. Actionable Marketing Tip: Provide useful information at every step of the purchase process as well as content to enhance the product’s usefulness to the customer. Further, it’s critical for customers be able to access the content wherever they are.
- Have a brand personality. In today’s social media world, brands are experiential. Your firm must provide a 360 degree brand that’s consistent. This goes beyond your logo to include your brand sounds, talks and looks. Actionable Marketing Tip: Extend your brand so that it’s consistent across social media, content marketing and real life interactions. Consider your firm’s values and how these should be incorporated into your communications and customer exchanges.
- Create trusting relationship. In a marketplace where consumer trust is low, brands provide a symbol of consistency. The challenge is that your reputation must be earned everyday. It’s not a one-time campaign after a firestorm breaks out. Actionable Marketing Tip: Work on your customer relationships across platforms. Use social media as a means to answer questions and respond to customers. Set and manage expectations.
- Able to evolve over time. While consistency is a critical aspect of a brand, strong brands are adaptable to dynamic environments – particularly in today’s 24/7 news cycle. This applies across your brand, products and company. Think long term. Actionable Marketing Tip: Integrate your brand into your organization so that your employees understand your core values and can represent your brand regardless of what happens and where they are in the executive hierarchy. This translates to the employees you hire and how you train them. (It also helps to have a PR crisis management plan.)
- Expect environmental disruptions and be prepared to evolve. Changes in technologies and regulations continue to provide opportunities for astute organizations. For example, Starbucks sells music in its stores while Amazon, known as a retailer, developed the first successful e-reader, the Kindle. Actionable Marketing Tip: Test new markets and ways of engaging with prospects, customers, fans and the public. Continually monitor your competition as well as the major players across the market. What are they doing? What seems to be off course and why?
The bottom line when it comes to branding is that it’s about the totality of your organization. Branding must be integrated into your organization, not just a collection of colors, typeface and logos slapped on your products. To work well, your brand should be aligned with your firm’s beliefs and core values.
What other brand attributes would you add to this list and why?
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Photo credit: © 2012 Heidi Cohen – http://HeidiCohen.com