How to build your brand to attract more customers
Let’s take away some of the mystery of what a brand is because many people confuse a brand with a logo.
Firstly, lets understand what a brand is. A brand is a collection of experiences that reside in your customer’s mind and the minds of all your stakeholders.
A brand can be anything from a logo, symbol, name, reputation and much much more. It is something that identifies you and your business from someone or something else. Think about McDonalds. The golden arches became part of their brand and it is easily recognized.
Building a strong brand
An important part of creating a strong brand resides in the contact stakeholders have with your name, logo, advertising and communication. Every experience your stakeholders have with your brand, contributes to the impression they have of you and your business in regards to the quality of your product and the interactions they have with your people.
To build a strong brand for your business, you need to ensure that customers have the right types of experiences with your products and services, and that any associated marketing programs generate the desired thoughts, feeling, images, beliefs, perceptions and associations you want linked to your brand.
The benefits of building a strong brand
A strong brand is an asset to any organization as it delivers a number of benefits including:
- Generates customer loyalty
- Makes the organization less vulnerable to competitive actions
- Creates favorable customer responses
- Increases marketing effectiveness
- Provides opportunity for brand extension
Building a strong and trusted brand will attract more contacts and customers to your business. It will also help build a good reputation in the marketplace with your suppliers, community and industry. With a strong brand and good reputation, it will also attract quality employees who will want to work for you. A strong brand makes your business less vulnerable to competition and increases your marketing and communication effectiveness.
Brands build an invisible language. If you associate brands with meaning, they would look like this.
|Car Brand||The Association|
Generic brands are associated with a product. For instance:
A strong brand has a massive advantage over another and with greater recognition can attract customers to buy from you.
Your brand must also link back to your vision – where you want to see your business in the future.
Brand equity is how well your brand resonates with all stakeholders. Just as you build equity into your home or your business, a brand builds equity as well. The more recognizable and trusted the brand is – the more equity it has.
“The value of a brand. From a consumer perspective, brand equity is based on consumer attitudes about positive brand attributes and favorable consequences of brand use.” – American Marketing Association
Steps to building a brand
Building a strong brand involves following four sequential steps:
- Brand Identity where you ensure identification of your brand and an association of your brand in the consumer’s mind that relates to their needs.
- Brand Meaning where you firmly establish what your brand means in both tangible and intangible associations.
- Brand Response where you elicit the appropriate response to the brand identity and brand meaning.
- Brand Loyalty where you have converted your consumer responses to your brand into an intense and active loyal relationship.
1. Brand identity
The first stage of developing your brand begins with increasing a deep and broad awareness of your brand in the marketplace. In order to achieve this first level in the brand equity pyramid, you need to develop a consistent look and feel for your brand.
Brand visibility or salience relates to consumer awareness of your brand. Ask yourself, “how easily do consumers recall or recognize your brand?” To what degree does your brand enjoy top-of the-mind awareness in the consumer’s mind?
Brand awareness is not only the consumer’s ability to recall and recognize your brand, it also relates to what elements the consumer links to your brand (brand name, logo and symbols). In other words, how well do they remember your brand?
Building brand awareness for your business involves making sure that consumers understand the products and services categories in which your brand will compete.
2. Brand meaning
The second stage of building brand equity is the meaning of your brand. This depends on three important dimensions
- Strength – How strongly do people associate your brand with the products and services you offer?
- Value – How important or valuable is your brand in the consumer’s mind? Do they associate your brand with negative or positive feelings?
- Uniqueness – How distinctive or unique is your brand compared with similar businesses in the marketplace.
When you compare your brand with other businesses, how does your brand perform? What is similar, and what are the points of difference? In order for you to build brand equity to level four (Brand Loyalty), you need to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.
Creating brand meaning involves establishing a brand image. What are the unique characteristics about your brand and what does it stand for in the minds of the consumer?
Brand associations are broadly based on functional, performance-based considerations versus abstract-imagery related considerations.
Brand performance highlights the fact that your products and services are at the heart of brand equity. This implies that to create loyalty and have consumers actively engage with your brand, you need to ensure that your products and services meet or exceed your customer needs and expectations.
- The features and benefits of your products and services
- The reliability of your products and services (meaning will your products and services do what you say they will do?)
- How effective is your service?
- How durable are your products?
- Efficiency and empathy
- Style and design of your brand (how you do business, how you look and present yourself)
Brand Imagery relates to the intangible aspects of your brand. It’s frequently associated with the user. The people who buy your products and services must be reflected in your marketing material. This builds credibility by ensuring your brand is something the consumer can identify with.
What is your brand personality? Is your brand young and vibrant or traditional and conservative? Brand imagery must reflect this accordingly.
3. Brand response
Brand response refers to how the consumer responds to your brand, your marketing activities and other sources of information such as word of mouth. In other words, what do your customers and potential customers think and feel about your brand?
Brand responses can be distinguished according to brand judgments and brand feelings. In other words, does the consumer respond with the head or the heart.
How do consumers react to your brand? How do they judge you and your business when exposed to your brand and what feelings does this arouse in them?
Brand judgments focus on the customers personal opinions and evaluation with regard to your brand.
- Brand quality – the perceived quality of the products and services you deliver along with the perceptions of value and satisfaction connected with your brand.
- Brand credibility refers to the extent to which your brand is perceived to have credibility in the marketplace based on perceived expertise, trustworthiness and likeability. In other words, to what extent is your brand seen as:
- being competent, innovative or a market leader?
- dependable and sensitive to the interests of customers?
- fun, interesting and worth spending time with?
- Brand consideration – the likelihood that consumers will actually include your brand in the mix that they consider, buy or use.
- Brand superiority – this relates to the extent to which consumers view your brand as unique and better than other brands. In other words, does the consumer believe that your brand offers advantages that other brands do not.
Brand feelings are your customer’s emotional responses and reactions with respect to your brand and business as an entity. How does your brand affect customers feelings about themselves and their relationship with your brand?
4. Brand relationship
Looking at the brand from a prospective customer’s perspective, you ultimately want your brand to resonate or strike a chord with them so that they want to do business with you. It’s at this point you have built brand loyalty which is ultimately what you are aiming to achieve.
Delighting the customer is the most powerful way of building your brand equity.
5. Brand personality
Branding does not only rely on visual cues to portray a message. It’s a more complex process of understanding the relevance of your brand to your target market and to ensure that it resonates with their needs.
Key to the success of building a strong brand is the ability to create an awareness of your brand’s identity and generate a positive response that results in a long-term relationship with your customers. Your brand should enjoy a unique and consistent look and feel, which is made up of the colors you use, the font and typeface and the “tone of voice” you use in your communication strategy.
Logos and images are the tip of the iceberg. Although logos and images are often termed “branding,” this is an oversimplification of what branding really entails. To be effective, your brand depends on how you position your business in the marketplace, your culture, the core competencies of you and your team and most importantly, the engagement of all employees to act as ambassadors and advocates for your brand, by actively integrating and demonstrating the brand values in their daily activities.
Just as people have personalities so too do brands. What personality does your brand demonstrate? Example; sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication or ruggedness. These words typify the brand personalities of both goods and services and are useful for informing how you promote yourself and your business in the creative process.
This concept not only sets the tone for your brand and marketing materials, it should also guide your interface with your customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to meet their changing expectations in an increasingly competitive market.
Tone of Voice
A brand does not only rely on its symbol and logo type to portray a message, how you communicate and the tone of voice you use sends out a message that affects how you are perceived in the market place. Ideally the messages that you convey, whether through promotional and collateral materials, or through personal interaction, should reinforce the descriptors of your brand.
A brand also has values. For example, professional, reliable, supportive etc. The brand values that you use seek to convey to your market what your values are.
On a Final Note
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