Building a great brand is never once-and-done. It’s more than a name, logo and graphics. It’s a frame of mind — an experience — with a narrative that stays relevant and makes its audience part of the story.
Brand Building begins on a foundation of who you are, what you offer and why it matters to your audience. It’s shaped by how you connect emotionally with your customers, distinguish your business and, ultimately, deliver on your promise. It’s sustained by consistency, thought-leadership and calculated effort. And, when done right, it adds equity to your business.
But, a great brand is also a story that’s never completely told. Like building a personal relationship, you need to know your audience, understand their needs and always be there for them. You have to be creative and agile. That means listening to your customers and possessing the humility to question your own decisions.
The well-managed brand adapts to evolving markets without compromising the identity or diluting itself. If you can’t quickly respond to change in a beneficial way, perhaps you’ve dug in too deep or haven’t been paying enough attention.
To maintain a healthy brand, continually engage your customers and make them part of the story. Always watch your competitors for ways to distinguish yourself from them. Follow industry thought leaders and add to the narrative. Be willing to accept change and adapt to it. Stay out of your own way and allow the chapters of your story to unfold.
And your brand might just live happily ever after.
It’s important to look like you belong in your market. But, it’s more important to promote your own uniqueness. Remember, your brand and identity is about differentiation. It’s not about being like the others.
If your brand cannot adapt to change, you could end up burning cycles recovering what you lost instead of spending your time building on what you have. As Ben Franklin once put it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The tagline is not about who you are or what you sell. It’s about them: your target audience. So, you better make sure it’s concise, direct and memorable, so they recall it the each time they hear your name.
The bankruptcy courts are full of great ideas that were undermined by ineffective branding and promotion. Build it and they will come? No, they won’t. Not unless you make them really want to. Or, better yet, need to.
If you’re looking to create a new brand identity or enhance your current one, expect to be deeply involved, regularly challenged and perhaps a bit frustrated. It surely won’t happen overnight. But your patience will certainly pay off.
As the year closes, ask yourself how your current challenges and objectives align with your overall vision. Have you lost your way, or are you sticking to your Brand Promise? Is it still meaningful to your customers and prospects? Have you allowed yourself the room to evolve with their needs, or have you boxed yourself in?
If your business is like ours, you don’t have a bottomless marketing budget to build awareness of a name that lacks clarity. We have to be more calculated and deliberate.
Business naming is the hardest part of what we do. Aside from the creative challenges, there are three major hurdles we have to leap. For every name we present, there are, literally, dozens of candidates that never make the cut. The client never sees any of those.
Even if you’re selling widgets, there’s something more that you offer that distinguishes your business in a positive way. It’s what your customers truly gain from you that they can’t get from anyone else. It’s this frame of mind that defines your business more than anything.