By Karen Dix, Senior Content Specialist
If you asked a cowboy in the old west to show you his brand, he’d point to the seared flesh of one of his cows.
“That’s my brand,” he’d say. “That cow is mine.”
Nowadays, the word “brand” is used quite broadly and can mean many different things to today’s consumer and/or business owner. But it still has something in common with those metal irons—it marks what is someone else’s.
What’s a Strong Brand?
We all know how to recognize a strong brand identity. Think Disney, Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike…the list goes on. They’re the companies that give us an immediate feeling, good or bad, the minute we hear their name.
Their brand is not only who they are. It’s how they make us feel. And that’s their magic.
Before you can elicit that same kind of emotion from your customer, you must build a strong brand. And to do that, you must use everything you have, all of your corporate assets. And they all should be pulling towards the same, elusive, holy grail we call the recognizable brand.
Establishing a strong brand takes time and persistence. The good news is, you already have the elements to do so in place at your organization. Just make sure they are all working together to create that strong brand. Are yours?
There are five of them. And here’s how it’s done:
1. Your Established Product and/or Service.
It all starts here. If you don’t a good, desirable product, it will be difficult to build a brand that people will care about. The more desirable your product is, the easier it will be to build a brand. The more unique your product or service is, the easier it will be too.
Apple didn’t have much competition with the iPod. The brand was easy to establish because the product was high quality, desirable and unique.
What’s that, you say, your product is not quite as popular as the next iPhone? That’s OK. You can still establish a strong brand. Just make sure your product/service offers something different than the competition, which you will communicate through …
2. Your Company’s Value Proposition.
You can’t build a strong brand without first having a strong value proposition. This tells the world why they should care about your product. It also communicates what you are trying to accomplish for your customers.
A solid value proposition is usually accompanied by a well-established mission statement or core values. Everyone in the organization knows who they are and what they are there for.
Companies with a strong brand take this and run with it throughout the organization. For example, Disney has a mission to “be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment.” They strive to produce unique experiences with their fabulous theme parks. To echo this throughout the organization, employees of Disney World, from the costumed actors to the ride attendants, are referred to as “cast members” rather than “employees” since the company’s overarching mission is to entertain.
Do you have a strong mission and idea of what you can do for your customers? How do you outshine the competition? How can you position yourself against them? How do you want to make them feel? Do you have strong alliances that will benefit your client?
Once you know who you are, then you can communicate your brand to the world, particularly, in how you look and feel.
3. Your Established Brand Identity.
Everyone knows what restaurant sits under the golden arches. And everyone knows who made that running shirt with the little black swoosh on the chest.
You probably have a logo in place. Is it communicating your brand well?
Some logos are so recognizable, no words are necessary. While your logo may never reach that level of notoriety (although it certainly could) it is no less important in defining who YOU are.
Here is where the emotional overtakes the rational. Think about your company like a work of art. What feeling is your logo trying to communicate? Strength or subtlety? Does it feel loud or soft? Bold or subtle? Does your logo “match” your company? Do the colors you use define or “feel like” your organization?
In case you’ve missed it, JJR is a little fond of the color purple. It’s our founder’s favorite, and provides a theme for everything we do.
Your logo serves as the foundation of all your other branding pieces. And if you want to do a good job of branding your company, your logo should be integrated throughout….
4. Your Marketing Materials.
This is a fun one! With your logo established, you can now bring your brand identity into the ecosystem of your organization.
That means all your marketing pieces are coordinated with your brand. Your website, brochures, business cards, letterhead, etc. not only all contain the same colors and logo, but also have the same look and feel. The tone of the content is similar too.
A branding guide is very helpful here to build continuity and identity throughout the marketing pieces and in all the organization’s communication efforts.
Don’t forget the office. Bring some of the corporate colors or brand identity elements into your interior décor or office.
The last asset you have contributes greatly to your brand, but is often overlooked in a discussion of “branding”…
5. The Way You Operate.
Think about this. Everything your company does, for better or worse, communicates your brand. Imagine calling the furnace man to come out for a service call, only to find him extremely rude and incompetent. What kind of impression do you get of the company itself? Do you think that will hurt your perception of the company’s brand? You bet it will!
At JJR, our value proposition is part of our brand and permeates the way we operate. We’re not in business just to market your products and services. We’re here to make your marketing dreams come true. We help our clients dream big, to think outside of the box to reach their marketing goals. We strive to bring the “amazing” into everything we do. That means:
A= Activating Your Passion
M=Making it Happen
A=Accelerating Your Dreams
We feel that how we operate helps solidifies our brand. What about your organization?
These five assets are really important to establishing a strong brand identity. Luckily, you probably have all of them in place. However, if they are not working together, communicating the same message to your customers and prospects, you could use a little work on your brand identity. Let JJR Marketing rope and tie your assets and give them your brand for all to see! Contact us for an audit and solid recommendation of how to strengthen your brand.
Karen Dix is a Senior Content Specialist at JJR Marketing and enjoys helping their clients strategies to turn their assets into a strong brand identity.