A strong brand creates the preference, not the product. And how do you do that? Brand equity is created by delivering consistent brand experiences and messaging over time. It is a relationship built through intangible, emotional attributes such as:
- How the brand makes consumers feel.
- Its engagement experience.
- Its image and personality.
- Its corporate social responsibility.
- Its values and purpose.
Long-term brands will also build equity by conveying the brand's tangible elements, like product features. What core benefits does it supply, what needs it satisfies, and what is the product's superiority? While rational factors are essential to the purchase decision, the emotional side of a brand tends to be the dominant force for building attraction.
There Is A Process
If you want to build your brand, doing it correctly from the beginning is critical. And to build it correctly, you must believe in and invest in it. Be sure you know how the brand is defined and while it may be intangible, it's a financial asset with value. Having a powerful brand has to be central to achieving your business goals.
Understand upfront that a brand requires ongoing nurturing to keep it relevant; it takes commitment, so prioritize your attention accordingly. Shake the mindset that branding and positioning are about design because, first and foremost, it's about strategy and maximizing return on your investment. (This is particularly important if you have investors.)
Remove The Veil
Allow your consumers to see the driving elements behind your brand and how it's delineated. If you still need to create a Mission Statement, do it now. What does the company stand for, and what is its purpose and vision? Then share realistic expectations on where the company will be in five years, what's in the pipeline to drive growth, new products, or new sectors.
Talk about areas of disruption or potential threats and how the current feel may change. Use transparency to share the stakeholders, regardless of investor or owner, and remember, consumers want to know with whom they're doing business. It really is a strategic process long before it is a design process.
Creating A Loyal Audience
Consumers respect your transparency, and when a misstep occurs, an intelligent brand will own it, as Dove Soap has done through the years. One example was in 2011; Dove had to apologize for an ad for its VisibleCare body wash as it seemed to show a black woman in the "before" photo and a white woman in the "after" photo with "more beautiful skin."
Creating quite a backlash, Dove reacted swiftly, posting a statement explaining what they had intended to do with the ad and apologizing. Their reaction was swift, and while it didn't sufficiently address the error, most people appreciated their transparency. Being sincere and straightforward can go a long way, and may be why a consumer remains yours.
This can be a swinging door. A lasting brand will encourage others to get involved, creating meaningful User Generated Content (UGC) for their social media channels. Invite consumers to participate with your brand, and people will begin to create their accounts to transmit your brand's news and activity.
Participating in community or national events that support a cause or positivity in some form is often used as social media "growth shoots". Give your established influencers freedom on social media and choose to work with a range of influencers. You convey the brand's belief in inclusivity and diversity through varying skin tones, body shapes, and cultural backgrounds. Relying on the power of peer-to-peer recommendation can be gold!