Brand development and building strong brand equity is as much science as much as it is art. Building equity and trust in a brand takes time, but the work needs to start from day one, to integrate a few core principles in the brand development exercise.
Essentially, there are 7 key elements you need to build a strong identity and equity to create traction, generate leads, and maintain sustainable growth.
1. Customer Focus
7. Fulfilment of promise
1) Customer focus
“You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the some, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time” – John Lydgate.
A brand has to clearly identify who its target audience is, and focus on communicating with them. It has to match their core offer with the needs of this specific audience, communicate a clear message in their language, provide a kind of experience that resonates with them.
For example, Axe became a multi-million dollar brand by clearly targeting 'nerdy, insecure' teenage guys and building the brand message accordingly.
The core offer, positioning, and promise of a brand has to be simple, clear, and easily understood. Recent studies indicates that the consumer attention span is decreasing, and that of an average internet consumer is 8 seconds (it’s 9 seconds for a goldfish!).
In a fast-moving world and marketplaces crowded with brands, it could be a big risk to hope that consumers will spend time to decipher the true offer of a brand, so a brand message has to be easy to decipher.
Almost every industry has various numbers of brands that offer relatively similar products. Needless to say, it is thus key to have a Unique Selling Proposition that makes a brand one more attractive for its particular target audience, even if the niche is extremely small.
The uniqueness is not always about the features of your product or service. It could also be in the delivery, the distribution, the environment, the price. Domino’s USP of pizza 'delivery in 30 minutes or less' made it an immediate success in the USA, with the company valued today at >$1 Billion.
A study by the agency Cohn & Wolfe across 12 global markets on important brand attributes indicated authenticity to be a top priority, especially to millennials.
60% of consumers would purchase and recommend a brand they perceive to be authentic. So it is important for a brand to be honest, transparent, meaningful, true to its stated values, and overall, prioritize people.
In their paper on Brand Credibility based on various research, professors Tulin Erdem and Joffre Swait write that ‘Credibility is broadly defined as the believability of an entity’s intentions at a particular time and is posited to have two main components: trustworthiness and expertise’.
These elements affects both brand choice and consideration. So a brand needs to have a Reason-To-Believe on why it can claim a particular expertise (i.e., why it has the ability to deliver what it states it can) , and it needs to continuously deliver on its promise in order to build up trust up over time.
A brand interacts with its target audiences at multiple touch points, whether it be in retail, online, customer service. And it’s important that the brand maintains the same tone and message at each point, to create a consistent image subconsciously in the minds of the audience.
If it changes any of its aspects, like message, design, service quality, from point to point, it will paint different pictures, the audience will get confused, and the interaction with the brand will decline.
A post in The Marketing Week indicates that Nike’s consistency of ‘Just Do It’ across channels helped it gain 25% market share and $8.3B in 10 years. And this consistency has to be maintained even at the smallest touch point with the consumer.
7) Fulfillment of promise
A brand is a promise, perceived as an experience by the customer.
Gallup conducted a study which indicated that consumers feel brands deliver their promises only 50% of the time. But the top companies deliver 75% of the time.
So to gain and retain strong brand equity, just keep your brand word.
Hope these points help you as you develop your small business brand.
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