First of all, I ask those of you who believe that your brand is your logo, your web site, your name or your slogan, to please take a few minutes and read a previous blog – Powerful Branding in Three Words. Also, when I discuss brands, I am referring to companies, products, services and personal brands (unless noted differently).
Your brand is your promise to the public, your value proposition, the sum of your intangible assets. Most importantly, your brand is what evokes that emotional connection with your customers. These key essentials must be met in order to have a powerful brand.
Nothing is more essential to building a truly effective brand than being authentic. Just as an elephant can’t masquerade as a tiger – no brand can make it for a sustained period trying to be what it is not. Zappos and Colleen Barrett, President Emirita of Southwest Airlines, are two terrific examples of authentic brands. Not surprisingly both have met with tremendous success
If your brand is not unique there is no reason that it will be the brand of choice. Your brand’s uniqueness is its point of differentiation – the attribute(s) which separates it from your competitors. Identify your uniqueness and leverage it to the fullest.
This is so obvious it may sound facetious – but people are attracted to attractive brands. Yes, your brand must be authentic and unique…and it has to be presented in a way that is appealing to your customers. By example, you may be a top attorney in your field but if you’re not groomed and dressed to meet the expectations of potential clients, the likelihood of being selected is greatly diminished.
Does your brand pass the ‘so what’ test? Simply put, your brand can be attractive, unique and 100% authentic – but if it doesn’t meet customers’ needs and wants it won’t be successful. Selling snow shoes in Key West is almost certain to be a failed business. Make certain your market doesn’t see your brand and say ‘so what?’.
Being preemptive is a highly desirable brand attribute. In this case, being preemptive does not mean being first to market (although your brand may be just that). Rather, it means that your brand is the brand of choice based on any number of factors. Examples of these are value, quality, availability, effectiveness or brand loyalty. Strive to be the ‘go to’ brand in your market.
Consistency builds trust. It’s that simple. When you’re authentic, unique, attractive and relevant – consistently – your customers know that they are going to get what they want, what they need, what they like and what fills their needs every time they do business with you.
Review your brand based on these essentials. Does it measure up? How can you improve? Many engage a professional to do what I call a Branding Breakout (a brand audit). This is an independent, professional assessment of your brand. Let’s face it, your brand is your greatest asset. Treat it as such.