Brand Promises: How to Craft, Articulate and Live Them for Brand Success

According to a Gallup study of nearly 18 million people, most customers say brands don’t live up to what they promise. [1] Many are also disengaged with their respective brands, and consequently not loyal to them either. Here we take a look at how to create, develop, share and authentically live out and deliver on your brand promise to help you thrive in the marketplace and increase your profitability.

 

 

Gallup Research Staff Brand Ambassadors

Image via www.gallup.com

 

 

 

What is a Brand Promise?

 

Your brand promise is an extension of your brand’s positioning, and can be explicitly spelled out, or manifested in more subtle ways. A compelling brand promise contains tangible emotional benefits, which in turn stimulates desire amongst its target audience.

 

Furthermore, a strong brand promise establishes expectations by informing customers on what the brand stands for and what it represents. [2] Sometimes the brand name in itself conveys the promise. Consider that most people hear the word “Cadillac” and instantly think of an upscale car.

 

Brand promises can also be communicated through symbolism such as the signature aqua blue associated with Tiffany’s jewelry. Before even opening the box, recipients anticipate that the item inside will be luxurious. The colour has been given meaning by what the brand stands for and the promise it consistently delivers.

 

Tiffany Blue Box 600px

Image via www.tiffany.com

 

 

Familiarity is also a major aspect of the brand promise.[3] When people see the golden arches of a McDonald’s restaurant sign, they expect the brand to deliver on its promise of uncomplicated fun. This is underpinned by good service and convenient food — all of which is a consistent experience of simple, easy enjoyment regardless of McDonald’s location.

 

 

 

Making Your Brand Promise

 

Your brand promise should be easy for customers to understand, and very relatable. Most importantly it should be livable on a daily basis within your organization. As customers’ tastes and expectations change, your brand promise may need to evolve over time too. Your brand promise can transform as your brand adapts to the changing market but should remain true to your core brand DNA. [4] Ideally, customer expectations should be mirrored to whatever your brand promise consistently delivers.

 

Brand promises should be emotionally compelling, and exciting.[5] Consider the brand promise conveyed when families book trips to Disney World, often referred to as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Travelers who are Disney World-bound expect a promise of stress-free, fun-filled happy adventures where memories are created and shared.

 

You must be able to succinctly describe the emotional benefit your brand fulfills when developing a brand promise. What can your brand deliver that’s perceived to be totally different to your competitors. Consider this in terms of your brand experience, personality, mission, values, brand story and so forth. This process, known as brand profiling, will help you evaluate which human needs or desires are most relevant to your purchaser personas or customer avatars so you can develop your product or service to really meet their needs. Some examples include:

 

  • Need to belong
  • Desire to do feel; good, healthier, beautiful, intelligent, worthy, smarter etc.
  • Desire to have; fun, adventure, excitement, relaxation, challenge
  • Need to get necessities without hassles
  • Need to get items at best price available
  • Desire to be admired by peers; status symbol, trend-setter etc.
  • Need to have a solution which solves a particular problem
  • Want to have something that intuitively works

 

The emotional rewards combined with rational benefits, all perceived to be delivered in a way which is incomparable to your competitors, are what contribute to a compelling brand promise. However, you also need to ponder factors such as your commitment to customers, your customer service and the customer journey and which elements contribute most to customer loyalty and ultimately the creation of brand advocates.

 

 

Articulating Your Brand Promise

 

Your brand promise may be communicated through a snappy tagline that emphasizes what people can expect.[6]  In the 1980s, Federal Express set expectations about delivery speed with the tagline, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” That’s an example of a very bold brand promise. However, you also may find it advantageous to utilize a more ambiguous approach. Apple did that with their “Think Different” tagline that was open to various interpretations.

 

A brand promise and a tagline are not the same thing. However, a tagline can be useful for communicating what your brand promise says in a distilled way that’s easy for customers to understand, remember and refer.

 

Although it is important for a brand promise to be communicated to customers, it must first be internalize amongst your team because staff members are your best brand advocates. Most importantly if your staff and stakeholders don’t fully understand and live your brand promise, your external market — your customers won’t either, which leaves you at risk of being just another generic commodity and failing to meet expectations. [7]

 

Conduct a brand audit health check to evaluate how well aligned (or not) your internal team are with the external market.  If you uncover weak points in your brand culture and misconceptions about your brand promise, you’ll be empowered to implement internal changes with brand induction and training.

 

In addition to educating employees about your brand promise, you also need to make them feel invested in it as an important part of the whole entity where their contributions are key to the greater good and brand success, so they care about the emotional needs your brand promise fulfills.

 

It’s essential to create an emotional brand attachment with your customers, as well as with your employees otherwise they won’t be effective brand ambassadors or properly represent your brand. They are in effect the living embodiment of your brand so their understanding, internalization and commitment to living what it stands for and delivering on your promise is critical to your brand success and long term business growth.

 

Remember, fundamentally people buy products or services with emotion first and justify with rationale afterwards, regardless of gender or cultural background, so you must touch the heart to move the mind.

 

When being communicated to customers, the brand promise should have a genre that can be expressed through audible and visual cues.[8] For example, the grocery store Trader Joe’s has the unusual genre of a trading post, and promises it has a team of people who search the globe for high-quality products backed by an impressive guarantee.

 

Your brand promise should also have a unique voice that defines and expresses the brand’s character or personality. When the brand promise is associated with a strong voice, it becomes more relatable and memorable.

 

Communicating your brand’s promise effectively means being consistent when attracting customers’ attention, educating them, stimulating desire and converting them into paying individuals. If your ideal audience are effectively engaged at each stage, it’s easier to communicate your brand promise in a worthwhile and profitable way.

 

Finally, your brand promise should be communicated consistently and congruently across all brand touch-points.[9]  You may choose to share it through social media, direct mail brand collateral or your website amongst others. Most importantly it should be a ‘tangible experience’ throughout your whole customer journey, particularly where physical connecting occurs such as over the phone or face-to-face. It should be an emphatic part of your brand experience, be that in the office, on the show room floor or in your physical outlet or store.

 

 

 

Living Your Brand Promise

 

When evolving or discussing your brand promise with your team, always aim to do so face-to-face and provide opportunities for engagement and feedback.[10]  Also, provide direction and suggestions on how staff can personify your brand promise at work amongst themselves and when interacting with customers, through your training and brand induction programmes. Explain and demonstrate that living your brand promise is not a one-off activity, but an integral part of how you do things. When the brand promise is lived out internally, it naturally gets far more effectively expressed to and experienced by external customers simultaneously. [11]

 

Be intentional about showcasing your brand promise to customers through your company brand culture. Rather than leaving things to chance, keep channels of communication open, and accept that your brand promise may evolve over time. If you discover your brand is not living up to its promise, considering engaging external professional assistance to help you re-evaluate your whole brand offering using tools and systems like a brand audit health check and brand profile development with a system like the Personality Profile Performer™ to improve matters.

 

Now that you’re aware of what a brand promise is, and how to create and authentically live it, let’s look at brands that have succeeded in developing compelling brand promises and delivering on them consistently and successfully.

 

 

CASE STUDY: Saba Restaurant, Dublin

 

Saba is widely regarded as being the best authentic Thai and Vietnamese Restaurant in Ireland with an impressive and very extensive array of national and international awards — which are constantly being added to.

 

Saba means, ‘happy meeting place’, so the brand’s primary aim and promise is to provide really happy experiences for its customers, the kind that mellow into happy memories. This is at the heart of the Saba brand promise and an integral part of the brand culture, which can be tangibly experienced at every stage of the customer journey from initial booking to front line staff interactions at their multiple locations. And the Saba staff are very congruent in the experience they provide to their customers.

 

The Saba Promise 600px

Image via www.sabadublin.com

 

 

With a very strong commitment to developing his team, Paul Cadden, founder and owner, ensures his team are really well trained throughout the business. The fact that Saba has some of the highest retention rates in the industry is a testament not only to Paul’s remarkable vision but to the genuine commitment of all his team.

 

The Saba Way 600px

Image via www.sabadublin.com

 

 

Every team member knows what the brand stands for, their brand promise and genuinely live it internally amongst themselves and proudly ensure its central to all their customers interactions and experiences with them — all of which is evidenced not only in the countless awards received but in the hundreds of customer reviews and testimonials given.

 

 

 

 

 

CASE STUDY: Big Blue Whale Toys and Curiosities

 

This Houston, Texas-based small business delivers the brand promise through the descriptor, “A Magical Place to Find Classic, Hard-To-Find, and Handmade Toys in Houston, TX”. Although its website is basic, it offers a photo gallery that clearly depicts the inviting shop.

 

 

 

 

 

Bursting with items for the young and young-at-heart, the photos demonstrate shoppers do indeed have a very good chance of locating toys they couldn’t find elsewhere. The ocean-themed windows also help entice people to come and indulge their curiosities by wandering around this “magical place” that lives up to expectations. The shop has even been recognized by Business Insider as one of Houston’s coolest businesses. [12]

 

 

Big Blue Whale 600px

Image via www.houstoniamag.com

 

 

CASE STUDY: Ace Hardware

 

Ace Hardware’s brand promise is as follows: Deliver helpful, neighbourly service to every customer—every time. Although the brand has always prided itself on excellent service, it has more recently begun expanding on the “neighbourly” aspect.

 

 

 

 

 

The brand now offers same-day service to homes that are within 15 miles of local stores when orders are placed by 13:00p.m. That perk is very attractive and compelling for customers embroiled in home improvement projects, or can’t fit bulky items into their vehicles.

 

Ace Hardware 600px

Image via www.mesquitelocalnews.com

 

 

CASE STUDY: Tourism Vancouver

 

The brand promise of this tourism board is “The Vancouver experience will exceed visitors’ expectations. We will deliver superior value in a spectacular destination that is safe, exciting and welcoming to everyone.”

 

 

 

 

 

This organization has created a “brand toolkit” to help other businesses live the brand promise, and thereby promote Vancouver as a great place to visit. The company also holds an award ceremony to recognize outside parties that are delivering on the brand promise with excellence. The brand promise is emphasized through an extensive collection of media clips, including some that show how Vancouver can be exciting even if people are visiting for business reasons and not only pleasure.

 

Tourism Vancouver 600px

Image via www.discovervancouver.ca

 

 

Now that you have a better understanding of what a brand promise is, how to create one, and why it’s essential to your brand success, hopefully you’re on track to not only make promises, but keep them and indeed deliver them in an unforgettably way. If you can do that, customers will thank you not only with their loyalty but also through referring and sharing your brand too.

 

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Your brand promise can be explicit or subtle, and may change as customers’ needs evolve.

 

  • Brand promises most effectively relate to emotional needs customers want fulfilling.

 

  • Your brand promise, customer experiences and expectations should be fully integrated and congruent.

 

  • Consistency is essential throughout every touch-point and communication when fulfilling your brand promise.

 

  • Employee commitment, brand induction and training are critical for effectively communicating and upholding your brand promise successfully.

 

 

Questions to Consider:

 

• What’s at least one emotional need your brand meets better than you’re your competitors? Have you developed your brand promise fully using the brand profiling process?

 

• How are you ensuring your employees’ perceptions of your brand promise are fully understood, congruent, authentically lived and effectively delivered throughout your organisation?

 

• Which channels are the most effective to communicate your brand promise to your customers and enhance their experience with your brand?

 

• Consider an occasion when a brand you love did not live up to its promise, how are you going to ensure your brand never falls foul with the same kind of disappointment?

 

• How are you connecting your brand promise to your existing company brand values, as Ace Hardware did? Have you considered or recently conducted a brand audit health check to evaluate how well your brand is performing, where it could do better and where new opportunities lie?

 

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

 

The Power of Disruptor and Challenger Brands

 

[1] Ed O’Boyle and Amy Adkins, http://www.gallup.com/ “Companies Only Deliver on Their Brand Promises Half the Time,” May 2015.

[2] Susan Gunelius, http://www.aytm.com, “Brand Promise – How to Make It and Keep It”

[3] Lee Frederiksen, “http://www.hingemarketing.com, “Elements of a Successful Brand 4: Brand Promise”

[4] Sree Hameed, http://www.forbes.com, “Your Brand Promise Can Create or Destroy Customer Loyalty,” June 2013.

[5] Sue Kirchner, http://www.theworkathomewoman.com, “How to Write a Killer Brand Promise That Helps You Stand Out from the Crowd”

[6] http://www.creativemporium.co.uk, “Branding Series (Part 2): Creating a Brand Promise,” July 2014.

[7] Susan Guneilus, http://www.womenonbusiness.com, “The Importance of Integrating Your Brand Promise Into Your Company Culture,” August 2013.

[8] Laurence Vincent, http://www.inc.com, “How to Bind Customers to Your Brand”

[9] John Oechsle, http://www.business2community.com, “How & When: Using Communication to Deliver on Brand Promise,” August 2015.

[10] Ashley Freeman, http://www.allthingsic.com “Nine Golden Rules to Help Live Your Brand Internally” April 2015.

[11] Chris Cancialosi, http://www.forbes.com, “The Secret to Faithfully Delivering On Your Brand Promise,” March 2015.

[12] Emmie Martin, http://www.businessinsider.com, “The 18 Coolest New Businesses in Houston., ” April 2015.

[13]  Natasha D. Smith, http://www.dmmnews.com, “Ace Hardware’s Brand Promise is Its Strongest Marketing Tool” March 2015.

Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” (Jeff Bezos) – CEO Amazon.

 

89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016 according to a recent Gartner survey, compared to only 36 percent four years ago. If your customers don’t like the customer experience they have with you, there’s a high probability they won’t buy again and they’re highly likely to share their poor brand experience with everyone they know — online!

 

Steve Jobs Quote Customer Experience 600px

 

 

Here we’ll take a look at who has been delivering a great customer brand experience and how they’re doing it really well, contrasted with others on the opposite end of the scale — with actionable learnings for you to take away from both.

 

The latest reports on customer brand performance are eye-openers and worth reflecting on when you review your own brand or give it a customer performance brand health check.

 

 

Common Brand Experience Traits for Top Brands

One factor that definitely stands out is steadfast perseverance. What has attracted customers before, and will attract them in the future, is perceived value. The brands that have continued to deliver highly regarded perceived brand value, from a customer perspective, and continued to unwaveringly improve upon it, are ruling the day.

 

This perceived brand value has nothing to do with affordability but everything to do with user experience, a unique experience that creates strong brand loyalty and engenders long lasting customer brand champions.

 

Amazon 600px

Image via http://i.huffpost.com

 

  

Who’s Got Exemplary Customer Service Really Covered?

  • 1.         Amazon
  • 2.         Apple
  • 3.         Nordstrom
  • 4.         Lush
  • 5.         First Direct
  • 6.         LL Bean
  • 7.         Air Asia
  • 8.         Uber
  • 9.         Net-A-Porter
  • 10.      Worldwide Stereo

 

Let’s take a closer look to see how these brands have a made real difference to their customers’ lives, and consequently massively grown their profits too.

 

 

Case Study #1 AmazonLet the Customer Rule

How Amazon created a brand around its customers?

When it comes to perceived value and web-based customer service, Amazon wins hands down. It has repeatedly demonstrated to the world that, when done correctly, with meticulous attention to detail and tireless focus, they are the byword for customer service. In reality, despite many detractors and ever-growing competition, the retail, or rather the e-tail giant, has proved that customer service is a fine art. It’s no wonder than many fail, despite best intentions.

  

The core vision

One of the reasons Amazon excels at customer service is because their core vision blends in with their founder’s original mission seamlessly — make customers the primary focus and deliver unflagging perceived value. They’ve built their entire customer service brand strategy, and in extension, their brand around this mission.

 

 

 

 

 

USPs:

What stands out first is their incredible returns policy, which is the first thing to reassure the buyer that they will be taken care of, even if they dislike their purchase. In other words, their money is safe, if in doubt.

 

Another outstanding feature is the Amazon fast response times. Unlike many other instances where a customer might hold for an eternity on their phone, waiting for customer service with other brands, with Amazon you connect swiftly.

 

With the recent additions to their call service centers, thorough follow-ups, and thoughtful tips for buyers, Amazon has consistently continued to prove that it is the guru of customer service. [1]

 

Lesson Learned:

Consistent reliability, every time

 

 

Case Study #2 AppleIs this an iPhone 6s?

How the brand inspires pride and ownership?

Technology companies in general have delivered an overall great customer service experience, which when you think of their reach, is not an easy task.

 

In the collaborative survey conducted by 24/7 Wall St. and research survey group Zogby Analytics, Apple had 40% of its customers vouching for its customer service. [2] For a company that has reinvented the word innovation, this figure is important.

 

How the brand functions?

First comes the customer, followed by the technology. Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology.”

 

Powerful words that still define the way the company works. It is a brand that stands for exclusivity and innovation. Today it is also a brand that stands for its customers. [3]

 

USPs:

Its customer satisfaction rating has improved by nearly 5 percent from 2014, helping it move its way closer to the top spot in the customer service Hall of Fame. Apple’s increased sales figures, a 30 percent increase in 2015 from the year before, also suggest a satisfied customer base.

 

Apple Store San Francisco

Image via www.msn.com, © AP Photo/Eric Risberg

 

 

What’s more, it has also ranked exceptionally high, a 4 out of 5, for employee satisfaction. Employees not only take pride in working here but they also identify with the brand and are active champions of the brand, a fact that reflects in their customer service and in the way customers identify with the brand.

 

In order to excel you have to innovate. You also have to identify a need and fulfill it and then ensure that the service you provide is truly exemplary. From the product design to the unique Genius bar, Apple has ensured that customer experience is not just good, but unique every time.

 

Lesson Learned:

How Apple does it? They innovate. Every time.

 

 

Hugh Mac Leod Gapingvoid Creativity Is The Fuel

Image via www.gapingvoid.com, © Hugh MacLeod

 

 

Case Study #3 NordstromLuxury is Approachable

How the brand has been reinvented?

The luxury brand has become the absolute role model for customer service with their seamless returns policy. The atmosphere is still that much loved and wonderful blend of convivial warmth together with subdued luxury tones, that makes shopping there a really enjoyable experience.

 

Their customer service agents are helpful, well trained and knowledgeable. While their recent policies have included more frequent promotions, their teams have been simultaneously trained to deal with the increased foot-fall and expanded customer mix.

 

Nordstorm 600px

Image via http://i.cbc.ca

 

 

USPs:

According to experts, what stands out however is their incredible price-matching policy across the country, similar to John Lewis in the UK. If an item has a price-drop anywhere else, no matter which store it is, they’ll match that price right away for their customer. [4]

 

Online shoppers can even get benefits like free shipping on every order and paid return shipping. The brand message has slowly evolved from classic to timeless and secure with customers made to feel important and cared for.

 

Lesson Learned:

Feel good luxury

 

 

Case Study #4 LushBeauty is Naturally Indulgent

What should be the brand focus?

Putting a definite smile on their customer faces is the focus for natural cosmetics firm Lush, with the help of their welcoming and very knowledgeable staff. The ‘happy atmosphere’ of the store enfolds customers like a welcome balm, who typically leave with or without buying, feeling in a better mood and good about themselves.

 

They garnered a whopping 89 percent of the votes and came out as the winner among UK’s top brands. According to the leading industry surveys from KPMG Nunwood and Which?, retail brands like Lush have made significant impact with their customers and consequently increased sales, simply by creating the right environment for their customers consistently. [5]

 

USPs:

Most people would think that a brand like Lush has been built on the premise that they are offering an exemplary range of products. Actually, when you look closely you will see that their entire brand strategy is focused on making their customers feel good and confident through their exemplary natural products, coupled with their proactive CSR strategy and giving back for greater social good. A fine difference but difference nevertheless.

 

Lesson Learned:

Create a brand personality associated with a warm and happy feeling, together with giving back for the greater good. People buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background, so you must win the heart first if you want to move the mind.

 

Lush 600px

Image via www.thisismoney.co.uk, ©Alamy

  

  

Case Study #5 First Direct – Your Money is Safe

First Direct was a close second with 86 percent of the votes, no doubt ruing its fall from the winning position that they held the year before. But it has nevertheless carried on its tradition of great customer service, which has been reflected in the surveys.

 

Much praise was heaped on it for its high-profile switching deals, as well as making the change process really easy for customers too.

 

Lesson Learned:

Making money management easy

 

 

Case Study #6 – LL Bean – You are the Heritage

Across the Atlantic it is LL Bean which came out on top. The heritage retailer has received five stars for its outstanding customer service and courtesy that left customers feeling positively happy, a word that is often not often associated with customer service today. Worth noting when you consider that according to another study, nearly one third of all consumers would rather clean a toilet than talk to most companys’ customer service agents! All LL Bean customers are responded to and quickly, one can even speak to an LL Bean representative in close to 30 seconds and get email responses within an hour.

 

Lesson Learned:

So what makes LL Bean so popular? They have made their brand easily identifiable for each and every customer by being so approachable. One just doesn’t take pride in the product but spreads the word for others.

 

Ll Bean Boots 600px

Image via http://www.businessinsider.com, Flickr/jimshooz7

  

  

Case Study #7 AirAsiaConnecting Anywhere, Anytime

How to overcome existing barriers?

We live in the age of constant connection and social media and this list would be incomplete with at least one brand that rules that space. The winner surprisingly is an airline, a category that has been historically notorious about customer service.

 

 

 Air Asia Airline 600px

Image via www.tommyooi.com

 

 

In an age where news, especially bad news, spreads faster than we can blink, keeping up with great customer service is a definite challenge. AirAsia, with JetBlue a close second, has changed our perceptions about customer service and interaction in the airline industry.

 

How have they succeeded?

 

Mastering the emerging technologies

With an outstanding Facebook presence, easy to navigate and helpful web pages, fast customer response time across all social and online platforms, AirAsia is rocking the virtual space.

They have over 3 million likes on their Facebook page which is not just a content sharing space but one where they have actively engaged their customers and readers.

They respond.

 

They make it a point to respond to all queries and comments and fast. Their representatives are always friendly and personable and available 24×7.

Fun promotions like “Free Seats Challenge,” one that offers 12 winning customers a year’s worth of free seats on flights doesn’t hurt either.

 

Lessons Learned:

You can reinvent around perceived barriers.

 

They have reinvented their brand by reinventing the way we look at airlines today. Instead of expecting hassles and hold-ups, one can experience instant connection and responses.

 

It immediately changes brand perceptions as it simultaneously engenders customer confidence and goodwill, before they potentially become irate — which is particularly important in a sector where unscheduled delays or unpredictable problems can make travelling more arduous.

 

 

Case Study #8 Uber – Customer Service Redefined

How a new brand becomes a giant?

Expert reports have revealed one brand that has been touching the thousand to million mark, in terms of customer service, and across the world it’s Uber. [6]

 

What started as simply easing of commute worries has now transformed into a whole new concept of transportation. With its ingenious and virtually seamless innovations it has now integrated itself into our daily lives together with a very robust customer following. Very soon, we will see it as a one-stop travel planner too.

 

Lessons Learned:

Identify a need, even in a crowded marketplace.

Innovate a service by adopting the latest technologies.

 

Uber 600px

Image via www.sfexaminer.com

 

 

Small and New Can Win Too

 

Case Study #9 Net-A-Porter – Be a Relaxed Shopper

The online retailer came next for its best phone-based customer service, an aspect of business very few brands can testify to.

 

Their outstanding one-to-one communication, in this era of mass communiqués have touched hearts and moved minds.

 

It is still a growing brand but it has effortlessly managed to hold its own against the goliaths by virtue of its incredible customer service.

 

Lessons Learned:

This focus on customer has indeed paid off with spreading word-of-mouth referrals.

Word-of-mouth, after all, is still the strongest brand strategy when leveraged for the right reasons.

 

 

Case Study #10 Worldwide Stereo – Customer is King

 

It’s not always the giants that rule either. In the world of behemoths, one small company that has made its mark in sales and customer service is the World Wide Stereo.

 

 

 

 

 

This electronics and audio store not only offers an amazing (and ever-increasing) array of innovative products, but has also garnered a reputation for its stellar customer service.

 

It’s fast becoming the place-to-go when you want an out of the box product that no one else has — and which often has sizable discounts too.

How they do it?

 

They hold their own against the big retail brands with their expedited two day delivery, and even a free next day delivery in some cases.

 

 

 Worldwide Stereo

Image via http://membrane.com

 

 

They stand by their products and are known to quietly upgrade orders and deliver a faster and better service. They even boast a custom home installation team, something many of us have never even heard of in this twenty-first century. [7]

 

Lesson Learned:

They have created a brand that stands for the customer, all the way.

 

 

Building a Brand with Customers at its Heart

According to the StellaService report, the brands that measured well are accessible to their customers via multiple channels: phone, email, online live chats, and have outstanding shipping and return policies too. [8]

 

 

Delivering Value

When we look at all the brands that have made it to the top positions for customer service, we see one thing in common – perceived brand value.

 

When you analyze performance more closely these brands have taken that concept to a completely new level. This is not the value for money concept in terms of the cheapest solution but rather the complete brand experience and the perceived increased brand value that engenders with its customers.

 

A great case in point is a premium brand like Apple with a premium pricing strategy – it is considered a top brand that offers value because of its outstanding product quality and great service. Every customer interaction is focused at making customers feel important while ensuring the product is accessible so it enhances peoples’ lives.

 

Customers need to be able to count on their favoured brands and the brands in turn have to focus on meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations, and work their deliverables around those expectations.

 

Amazon delivered innovative support through their May Day button on the new kindle, where customers get support at the click of a button from a live person. No calls, no hold times, no chats and no waiting for email responses. This close attention to detail is what creates a sustainable brand. This is the value all brands should strive for.

 

Brands working on reinventing themselves or on their way to create a distinctive brand presence should focus not just on their products and sales, but also on their after sales service because word-of-mouth is still the strongest sales voice in the field.

 

A quick look at preferred customer service attributes:

  • Time Saver
  • Fast Turnaround
  • Price Match
  • Great Positive Emotive Feelings
  • Great service

 

 

Monopoly is so Last Year

There is also much to learn from the brands that did not do so well in the surveys and consequently what not to do! Interestingly, cable, satellite and wireless service providers reportedly fared quite badly on both sides of the Atlantic. Their long-running problems with low customer satisfaction are unfortunately very much a part of negative customer experiences according to the latest industry surveys.

 

 

What not to do

According to customer ranking research and survey results, despite the continued poor performance they still appear to suffer from a lack of urgency to improve the quality of their customer interactions. This could explain the continued customer complaints and dissatisfaction. [9]

 

One reason for this apathy could be the limited competition these companies face which somehow undermines the need for appeasing the customer faster, but hardly anything can explain this sectors indifferent attitudes reportedly experienced a little too frequently. The moment there is a new kid on the block, a challenger, disruptor and innovator, no matter how small, customers will switch.

 

 

Key Learnings to Consider:

•  A brand is built through its service – both sales and customer service

• If customer experience isn’t one of your top priorities long term, you’ll lose

•  Be reachable, always, anytime on multiple platforms

•  Expect what the customer expects, exceed their needs and design your service to meet those demands

• Innovation is the key to keeping customers engaged

•  Never be too complacent for the next big thing is always round the corner

•  Engage the customer on social media

•  Customer service is must and core to your successful brand strategy

•  Value is not low price, it is a great consistent brand experience

•  Offer true value, every time

 

 

Questions to Consider:

• Do you know what your customers really want? When did you last conduct a brand audit health check?

 

• Have you made your customers central to your long-term goals, or is it still revenue? It’s never about just the money.

 

• Do you have a robust team in place to deliver world-class customer service, 24×7? Are they also well-trained and fully inducted brand champions?

 

• Is your brand strategy totally sales based or is it customer service focused as well?

 

• Are you creating a sustainable brand through your customer support network?

 

• Are your customers talking about your brand beyond their brand interactions? Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your brand strategy?

 

• Do you offer true brand value in terms of a complete brand experience?

 

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

The Profit Power of Cult Brands, Why and How to Create One

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

  

 

[1] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[2] 24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015

[3] Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, 24/7 Wall St.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/07/24/24-7-wall-st-customer-service-hall-fame/30599943/, August 2015

[4] Matt Granite, Money Expert, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/04/22/save-of-the-week-best-customer-service/26180985/, ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[5] Which? Survey, http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/shopping-grooming-and-wellbeing/reviews-ns/best-and-worst-brands-for-customer-service/100-big-brands-rated-for-customer-service/, ‘Best and worst brands for customer service: 100 big brands rated for customer service’, May 2015

[6] Brittney Helmrich, Business News Daily, http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7578-social-media-customer-service.html#sthash.pFzb6Eu5.dpuf, 10 Companies That Totally Rock Customer Service on Social Media’, December 2014

[7] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[8] STELLA BENCHMARKS, https://stellaservice.com/benchmarks/, 2015

[9]   24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015 

 

 

What’s a Cult Lifestyle Brand, and How do You Create One?

When the Apple Corporation gave its annual report in 2015, it had a whopping $178 billion in cash, or enough to buy the Ford, Tesla, and General Motors car companies and have more than $41 billion left over. [1] Such is the power and worth of a so-called cult lifestyle brand. Here, we’ll look at what makes up a cult brand, and the characteristics that set the stage for your brand to obtain that coveted status.

 

 

What is a Cult Brand, and Why is it Smart to Build One?

  

A cult brand has worked so hard to build a following, it’s in a class of its own. Loyal customers feel there is no substitute for the benefits ‘their’ cult brand offers, and they’re often willing to go to great lengths to get access to those much sought after respective products or service.  Cult brands anticipate the tangible and spiritual needs of their customers and work to fill them on multiple levels. [2]

  

They’re usually associated with social benefits, too [3]. For example, Fender guitars are arguably not the most technically advanced instruments, but they nevertheless enjoy a cult following. Once people buy a guitar, they feel they’ve become part of a social club of other content like-minded customers, including some superstar players.

  

Once you’ve built a strong cult brand it will continue to inspire brand loyalty provided you both carefully nurture it and your loyal customers. That loyalty is likely to persist even if you charge a premium or intentionally produce products or services in limited quantities with restricted access.

  

Furthermore, in the event an untimely problem arises that momentarily blemishes the brand, its cult status will often be enough to carry it through those temporary low points.  Brands with cult-like status tend to engender staunch customers willing to buy the brand again despite mishaps.

  

 

Characteristics of a Cult Lifestyle Brand

 

Let’s take a deeper look and examine key characteristics that help some brands stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, seemingly immune to the many struggles causing competitors to flounder:

 

  • Cult Brands Have Recognizable Strong Personality Traits: Although brands don’t necessarily have all the attributes humans do, the best share many qualities with humans. They are like humanized entities. You may resonate with one of your most beloved brands because it appears to exhibit sympathy, honesty, integrity and motivation, among other emotionally engaging human-like traits, qualities and values that are potentially important to you.

 

  • Cult Brands Are Relatable: When a cult brand is relatable, it’s able to resonate with its target audience by encapsulating familiarities within everyday lives. A brand may be positioned so it’s optimally relatable via its packaging, customer service, employees, customer journey, brand collateral and even purchase receipts.

 

  • Cult Brands Encompass Broad Ideals: Some brands reach cult status because they successfully convey an ideal or lifestyle its purchasers aspire to and want to be part of. Maybe the brand’s associated with warm hospitality, opulent luxury, a rugged, adventuresome lifestyle or a hunger for high-tech items that regularly challenge what we think is possible. [4] By regularly purchasing items or services that represent what they aspire to having, buyers inch ever closer to their ultimate goals. Its what the beloved cult brand ‘stands for’ that its target audience identify, with and relate to as part of their own personal identity.

 

  • Cult Brands Have Their Own Catchy Brand Language and Buzzwords: At Walt Disney World, people who work there aren’t called employees, but “cast members.” Furthermore, the crew that designs rides is staffed by “imagineers.”

 

Also, don’t walk into an Apple Store and expect to get your MP3 player checked at the technical support desk. Instead, stroll back to the Genius Bar where a specialist bearing the title of “genius” will examine your iPhone. 

 

The distinctive language used by cult brands is not just an accidental cutesy extra. It’s quite deliberate and strategically developed as part of building the brand’s profile using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™. When people learn the lingo or brand language, they’ve become members of an exclusive club, the in-crowd, and are thereby more closely connected to one another and those they perceive to matter most in their world. [5]

 

 

4 Top Tips for Creating a Cult Brand

 

Now that you’re more familiar with some aspects of brands that have reached cult status, let’s explore actionable tips that could help your own brand achieve that apparently insurmountable feat. [6]

 

1. Tell a Strong Brand Story

The human brain responds instinctively to stories. We’ve shared stories since we lived in caves and learnt them as children on our parents’ knees. It’s how we make sense of the world. Your brand should develop and tell an engaging, memorable tale. When we’re working with our clients to create and develop memorable brand stories we use our Story Selling System™. Consider that most cult brands are able to successfully communicate which problems their products solve. Ideally, your story should not only be authentic and emotionally compelling, but prove how your product fills a demonstrated need.

 

 

2. Excel at Doing or Giving Something People Greatly Value

Cult brands are often excellent at providing a service or benefit to a far superior degree when compared to their competitors, and brands in other unrelated sectors for that matter. This is one of the reasons why it’s so crucial to understand what other brands in your industry are doing, and evaluate how you can reach beyond that point in a meaningful and feasible way. A brand audit is a very effective tool for uncovering this often hidden information. Your brand needs to be creating a customer experience in at least one very unique way that’s vastly superior to your nearest contenders.

 

 

3. Truly Value Your Customers

Regardless of how great whatever you’re offering is, your brand is highly unlikely to reach cult status if you consistently give customers the cold shoulder. Earlier, we talked about how people who follow cult brands may be more forgiving and willing to offer second chances. However, that’ll only happen if you have stellar customer service practices that make your customers feel like they’re genuinely worth your time and much appreciated for their business.

 

Besides just offering great service, try to include customers in your creative or product or service development process, even if its just to get feedback from them. People love feeling like they’re part of something important and that their opinion matters. If you make it clear their thoughts matter, they’re more likely to be loyal for life.

 

 

4. Give the Impression of Scarcity

Although this tip can backfire in some markets, profits and consumer interest levels can grow when customers feel the product you’re offering is not easy to acquire. When buyers believe an item is in limited supply, they’re often more likely to try harder to get it.

 

   Pixabay People Waiting 600px

 

  

Now, let’s look at a few case studies of companies that have used various brand strategies to build their cult brands and make them thrive very profitably.

 

 

Case Study: SoulCycle

 

SoulCycle is a brand of indoor cycling classes that’s beloved by celebrities, and some might say, a little overpriced. Class prices begin at $32 for 45 minutes of sweaty cycling. Yet, SoulCycle’s devotees don’t mind.

 

   Soul Cycle Home Page2 600px

Image via www.soul-cycle.com

 

 

Many of them cycle while wearing diamonds and Rolex watches. Being around people who are outfitted in the same way likely engenders feelings of even greater exclusivity.

  

 

  

  

  

Furthermore, certain superstar trainers have very small exclusive class sizes, leading fitness fans to scramble in hopes of landing an open slot, or getting lucky when someone doesn’t show up. Chelsea Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga are just a few VIPs singing SoulCycle’s praises, with Lady Gaga even bringing custom-made SoulCycle bikes on a tour. [7]

  

     Soul Cycle 600px

Image via www.popsugar.com

 

 

Case Study: J. Crew

 

Founded in 1983, J. Crew is an American clothing brand that has impressively been able to enjoy a long-term cult status, while other hopeful brands have faltered. Some analysts say the success is largely due to the brand’s fearless and forward-thinking president and creative director, Jenna Lyons. [8]

 

       Style Profile Jenna Lyons 600px

Image via www.letsrestycle.com and www.sohautestyle.com

 

 

She took the helm in 2008 and began running with the bold strategy that the brand should no longer be dictated by corporate strategies. Instead, J. Crew would not associate with a product unless its team members truly embraced it.

  

 

 

  

 

Furthermore, Lyons unified the company’s creative processes and gave employees more freedom to take risks. Ideas that don’t work well are quickly disposed of, leaving some to feel J. Crew is constantly in flux. However, rising profits and raving fans indicate the changes have resonated. Some of the brand’s YouTube videos have more than a million views.

 

 

Case Study: Vij’s and Rangoli

 

These two Canadian restaurants are run by a husband and wife team and have become some of the hottest eating establishments in Vancouver. A “No Reservation Rule” means people sometimes have to act fast to enjoy this beloved cuisine.  

    

   Vikram Vij 600px

Image via www.macleans.ca

  

  

Besides the tasty fare they offer, perhaps one of the reasons why the restaurants have such loyal followings is because their very creations represent an entrepreneurial dream many fantasize about.

 

 

  

 

  

The restaurants were funded by a small loan from a family member, plus personal savings. One member of the team is Vikram Vij, who’s originally from India. He was able to use talent, determination and dedication to help the restaurants prosper.[9] Vij and his wife Meeru have even written two acclaimed books.

   

      Vijs Indian Cookbooks 600px

Image via www.vijs.ca

   

   

Clearly, there’s not a single path that leads an emerging brand to cult brand status. However, a combination of key factors, such as cultivating desirable brand characteristics, a skilled team with a visionary leader, unwavering focus with a clear strategic brand vision and an exclusivity or scarcity strategy can result in impressive outcomes.

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • Cult brands must meet a need or solve a problem in at least one way that’s significantly superior to competitors

 

 

  • Cult brands are inspiring, yet relatable

 

  • People are often more forgiving of cult brands

 

 

  • Cult brands often encompass desirable lifestyles

 

 

 

Questions to Consider

 

  • Can you identify one or more desirable personality traits your brand possesses that may help it reach cult status?

 

  • What positive associations or lifestyles relate to your brand?

 

  • Can you think of a situation where it may be detrimental or inappropriate to use a scarcity strategy?

 

  • Which problems does your brand solve for consumers?

 

  • In what ways do you think your brand makes others feel inspired?

 

 

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Top 10 Packaging Trends for 2016

 

• Limited Edition Packaging: How to Use it as Part of Your Brand Strategy

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

• Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

 

 

 

[1] Sam Colt, uk.businessnsider.com, “15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Apple’s Latest Quarter,” January 2015.

[2] http://www.cultbranding.com, “Cult Brand Defined.”

[3] Antonio Marazza, http://www.forbes.com, “A Survival Guide for Symbolic and Lifestyle Brands,” October 2013.

[4] Jessica Farris, http://www.printmag.com, “Branding Lifestyles: What Does Your Brand Represent?” September 2014.

[5] Frank Cowell, “http://www.elevatoragency.com, “Why Your Brand Needs Its Own Language”

[6] Dave Llorens, http://www.huffingtonpost.com, “8 Cult Lessons That Will Help You Build Your Brand,” December 2013.

[7] Vanessa Grigoriadis, http://www.vanityfair.com, “Riding High,” August 2012.

[8] Danielle Sacks, http://www.fastcompany.com, “How Jenna Lyons Transformed J.Crew Into a Cult Brand,” April 2013.

[9] smallbusinessbc.ca, “Meet Vikram Vij, CBC Dragon, Vij’s Restaurant, My Shanti, Rangoli and Vij’s At Home”

  

  

Top 10 Branding Articles in 2015

Are you curious which Persona Branding and Design articles have been the most popular over the past year?

 

We’re always interested to see which of our posts resonate most with you, our reader. Even though we do lots of research and planning, there are no guarantees which topics will trigger the most interest.

 

Here you’ll find an insider’s peek into our top ten most popular branding articles of 2015, some of which you might have missed.

 

I’m sure you’ll find at least one that will be very useful to your business in the year ahead.

Wishing you growing success in 2016!

   

  

Top 10 Branding Articles In 2015 600px

  

   

1. Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

The differences between a tired, old, has-been of a brand and a fresh, lithe and provocative one can be boiled down to a singular concept: storytelling. The art of telling a story, and telling it well, is integral to grabbing every potential customer’s attention, and a key part of your brand strategy.

 

The secret to success in the elegant art of storytelling lies in understanding its fundamental components. Though by no means comprehensive, what follows is a breakdown of some major elements that any good story should include. These are in fact some of the key ingredients we incorporate in our Story Selling System™ used when developing our clients’ brand stories:

 

The Top 5 Components of a Great Brand Story are as follows…

    

  

 Open Book 600px

   

  

2. Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

 

Launching a new brand is both exciting and challenging. The excitement comes in the promise of something fresh and new that could be wildly successful, be it for your well established, emerging or new start-up company — and the challenge comes in getting it right the first time.

  

Evaluating, articulating, developing and documenting your new brand’s position and purpose is crucial to building a strong successful brand.

  

It provides the roadmap and rationale to get you out of the starting blocks and heading in the right direction towards your ultimate success. And similar to your business plan, it’s also a key foundation to any successful business, be it product or service.

 

The question here is, do you know the key ingredients required for building a new brand?

 

To help you move in the right direction with your branding here are some of the elements we typically include in our branding process every time we’re working with a client to help them build their brand, whether it’s revitalizing an existing brand or launching a totally new brand to market.

 

These are actionable points which you should reference and evaluate before you launch your new brand, product or service, to market.

   

   

 Top 10 Branding Tips For Success 600px 


  

3. What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

More than a half century ago, the customer-centric branding pioneer Walter Landor said, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” [1] In 2016, the path to that consumer experience is a two-way street, and guess who’s in the driver’s seat? Brands with strong personality are the winners, because consumers equate experiences with brands.

  

Branding keywords for 2016 include: personalized, authentic, humanized, interactive, engaging, and mobile.

 

We take a closer look at some outstanding examples from brands that illustrate key 2016 on-trend pointers to successfully target today’s customers.

  

 

  Edelman Slide1 600px

Image via www.edelman.com

 

 

4. Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality  

 

Your brand is much more than merely a product or service, or a logo. Brands are an experience—the relationship between your business and your customers—and to create an exceptional customer experience, your brand must have an irresistible personality.

 

To quote Martyn Newman PhD “In the information age and globalised economy where values and meaning matter more in the market place, the value of emotional capital increases. This creates brand value and goodwill and results in repeat sales through customer loyalty, lifetime relationships and referrals. In other words, the brand is more than a name or a logo; it creates trust and recognition and is a promise and an emotional contract with each customer.”

 

Brand profiling is the systematic process of creating, developing and implementing your brand character and personality through shaping its brand promise, values, the do’s and don’ts of its behaviours, story, emotional benefits, its culture and what it stands for and so forth.

 

It’s this humanized entity that gets your brand message out into the market, cuts through the noise and gets the attention of your primary customers in a way that matters to them.

 

When creating and developing the profiles for our clients’ brands we use our bespoke Personality Profile Performer™, a systematic approach which underpins the commercial, rational, and holistic aspects of successful brand profile building.

 

The following six key elements are representative of some of the core ingredients included within this branding process, used to create and deploy a compelling personality for your brand.

  

  

 Martyn Newman Brands And Emotion

Image via www.eqsummit.com

 

 

5. Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships 

 

Co-branding is defined as a partnership between brands. It typically works best when Brand A partners with Brand B, each with a different set of customers and brand associations of their own.

 

As in the expression, “the whole is bigger than the parts,” co-branding can add value when synergy exists between the brands; it creates an emotional energy, starts conversations and creates buzz around both partners and can delivery significantly increased financial returns for all involved when done right.

  

In addition to brand revitalization, co-branding objectives may include getting more bang for your buck, growing market share, building audience reach and altering perceived positioning. Co-branding is primarily used an alliance of two brand partners, although there’s no rule against bringing three or more to the party.

 

Checkout here:

• The Top 7 Benefits of Co-Branding

• 5 Co-Branding Risk Management Guidelines

• The Top 6 Tips for Co-Branding Success

with case studies and examples of who’s done it really well.

  

 

 Co Branding Multiple Examples 600px

Infographic via www.missvinc.om

 

 

6. Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

 

Colour increases brand recognition by 80%. 93% of shoppers consider visual appearance over all other factors while shopping. It adds huge power to communications, opinions, recall and emotive influence. In fact when used correctly, colour is a pivotal tool to substantially influence purchasing decisions, service or product.

  

Since colour choices impact every aspect of a commercial enterprise, brand owners should aggressively re-evaluate that choice throughout their brand strategy.

  

The question is, has your brand’s colour palette been selected with the right intent and applied to best possible effect throughout all your brand communications and touch points to ensure your brand grow and increased profitability?

  

Find out more about why colour matters and how you can use it more effectively within your business.

 

  

 Colour Infographic Cropped 600px

Infographic via Blueberry Labs

  

 

7. Packaging Design: How to Make it into an Irresistible Customer Brand Magnet

 

The growing proliferation of multiple different brands in the market place has made customers spoilt for choice, but often at the expense of easy decision-making.

 

When presented with an assortment of packaging options in which nothing decisively stands out, with a compellingly clear message that speaks to a customer succinctly, analysis paralysis sets in. It’s when faced with this situation that a confused shopper will typically default to making decisions based on price alone.

 

The question here is, where does your brand sit in the mix?

 

Leading brands cut through the visual and cognitive noise created by an oversaturated market full of aggressive competitors and hook their ideal customers by meeting their needs both emotionally and rationally.

 

Here’s how…  

 

 

 Marmite Limited Editions 600px

Image via www.marmite.co.uk

 

 

8. Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand   

  

The combined value of the various luxury goods markets in 2014 was an estimated 865 billion euros, with luxury cars, personal luxury goods and luxury hospitality taking the top three places, with values of 351 billion, 223 billion and 150 billion respectively.

 

You might think those statistics make luxury branding a very interesting sector, however if you want to reposition or establish your brand targeted at a high-end customer then there are six keys factors you need to consider within your brand strategy.

 

Firstly there are four main characteristics by which the luxury customer defines a luxury brand. However the way in which someone perceives luxury will depend on factors ranging from their socio-economic status to their geographical location.

 

Here are the four main characteristics by which luxury brands are defined together with the six key brand strategies for building a winning luxury brand. 

  

  

Super Rich Shopping Habits Infographic 600px 

Infographic via Raconteur.net

 

 

9. Millennial Branding: 6 Ways Your Brand Can Appeal to Millennial Customers

 

Millennials, the newest generation of influential consumers (also known as Generation Y or Gen Y), spend more than $600 billion dollars annually with spending power expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, (or 30% of US sales) according to Accenture 2013 research.

 

While these statistics sounds like ‘gold bullion’ for many brands, in our experience often smaller companies and organisations struggle to develop their brand strategy in a way that relates relevantly to this fast changing group of buyers.

 

Millennial consumers are a very fluid constantly moving target with multiple devices overflowing with content clamouring for their attention 24/7. However once you really understand this discerning consumer properly and tailor your brand to really meet their needs, you can, like many others tap into this incredibly lucrative market.

 

Here are our top 6 key brand attributes you need to consider when developing your brand strategy to attract your Millennial customer.

   

   

 Millennial Entrepreneur 600px

 

 

10. Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

 

The average consumer spends 88% more time on content with video and video is shared 1200% more times than links and text combined. A landing page with video gets 800% more conversion than the same page without video.

   

If you ever thought using video to promote your brand was too difficult or beyond your reach these statistics might make you think again.

 

Find out exactly how you can use video to grow your brand here.

 

You can even find out how one small start up brand used video to achieve worldwide distribution and now has more online viewers than its competing massive global brands combined!

  

  

 You Tube 360 600px

Image via Google / YouTube

 

 

Did your favourite post feature in one these top 10 branding articles of 2015? If there was an alternative that was your first preference, drop us a line and let us know. 

 

Meantime I’d love to keep you up to date with what’s happening in the world of branding and make this blog really useful to you. If there’s anything branding related you would like to read about in this blog or if you have any questions or comments, suggestions for a blog post, feedback or even just to say Hi, just send me a short note, I’m here to help!

E: [email protected]

or give me a call at Tel: +353 1 8322724

 

Wishing you increasing success in the year ahead!

  

  

   

Brand Audit: When the USA Took the Branding Bull by the Horns

Household brands bearing the “Made in America” tag were in big trouble in the mid-1980s. Shivers ran down the spines of Detroit automakers as efficient Japanese models filled the U.S. highways. Sony Walkmans, Nintendo and Atari video games were on everyone’s shopping list. America lost ownership of household brand names as well as bricks and mortar symbols of the USA, such as Rockefeller Center and Columbia Pictures of Hollywood.  

 

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s solution was a renewed focus on supporting American brands in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. A new public-private partnership began with incentivizing American companies to ensure continuous product improvement before asking consumers to support American brands via their wallets.

 

When the cabinet leader that President Reagan had in mind to spearhead the re-branding of the USA’s output was fatally injured in a rodeo accident, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program was named in his honour — envisioned as a standard of excellence to help U.S. organizations achieve world-class quality.  

 

America’s only presidential award for performance excellence among both private and public companies goes annually to a maximum of 18 organizations within six sectors: small business, service, manufacturing, healthcare, education and nonprofit.

  

  


  

  

Groundbreaking in its day, the core competencies of the program are now widespread. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, many U.S. states and 60 other countries have adopted the Baldrige Criteria to create similar programs at home.[1] The European Quality Award is modeled on Baldrige Criteria, adding two additional  layers for social and environmental community. [2]

  

  


  

   

How Can A Brand Improve Itself?

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program criteria reflect an evolution from a focus on service and product to a broader, strategic focus on overall organizational quality, called performance excellence.

  

In other words, don’t just build a better mousetrap (product). Do so with a good roadmap (leadership, vision, planning) examining the means to reach the ends (training, education, management) and keep a happy workforce (engagement, performance) and customers (quality, profit). 

  

The Baldrige Criteria guide a company through examination within seven areas of achievement and improvement.  

 

  • Leadership: How upper management leads the organization, and how the organization leads within the community.

 

  • Strategic Planning: How the organization establishes and plans to implement strategic directions.

 

  • Customer and Market Focus: How the organization builds and maintains strong, lasting relationships with customers.

 

  • Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management: How the organization uses data to support key processes and manage performance.

 

  • Human Fesource Focus: How the organization empowers and involves its workforce.

 

  • Process Management: How the organization designs, manages and improves key processes.

 

  • Business/Organizational Performance Results: How the organization performs in terms of customer satisfaction, finances, human resources, supplier and partner performance, operations, governance and social responsibility, and how the organization compares to its competitors.

  

  

Look Inside

Companies applying for a Baldrige Award go through self-assessment as a first step. It’s a framework that empowers an organization to understand its own strengths and weaknesses, improve, reach goals, become more competitive. A good number of companies in the Baldrige circle indicate that this process — and the trained Examiner who leads them through it — is the most useful aspect of the program, award or no award. 

  

  

Evaluate to Elevate

When you evaluate your organization from a branding perspective, you’ll compare your own performance with best practices across brand profiling, brand strategy, brand alignment, brand communication, brand execution, and additional markers. As a Baldrige Examiner would do for an applicant in that program, we can guide you through the brand audit process, make recommendations and work with you to elevate your brand.

 

These two companies won the Baldrige Award. Of the 23 small businesses to earn the quality prize since 1987, K&N Management did it in 2010. Ritz-Carlton is the only winner in lodging…and they achieved it twice. 

  

 

K&N Management: The Love of Excellence

 

K&N Management is a small Austin-based operator of burger and BBQ restaurants in eight Texas locations. 

 

What is the world “management” doing in the name of a burger, fries and shakes outfit? As one of only two restaurant companies to win the National Quality Award, K&N’s website tells the story of the family behind the grill. 

   

   


    

    

It’s more than flipping burgers; they have a vision and brand values:

 

  • Mission: “To Guarantee Every Guest is Delighted Because of Me”

 

  • Vision: “To Become World Famous By Delighting One Guest at a Time”

 

  • Core Values: “Excellence – Quality – Integrity – Relationships”

 

  • Key Business Drivers: “Food Quality – Speed of Service – Cleanliness – Texas Hospitality℠ – Accuracy – Team Members – Value”

   

At K&N Management, they make leaders. Training courses are offered for each step up the career ladder, such as “How to Create Effective Internal Communications.” The career progression ladder — with salary expectations — is shared with employees (and the public). It looks like they’re doing the unimaginable: inspiring fast food workers, retaining staff, creating community, promoting from within.

     

    Kand N Mangement

 Image via www.knmanagement.com

   

   

Visit the website to see more about the employee volunteerism being fostered by K&N Management, including Gold Recognition for Community Impact. The recognition that comes with that certificate held high for the camera is accompanied by peer support, kudos from management, family and company pride in addition to the important volunteer work itself.

    

     Kand N Mangement Quality Award

 Image via www.knmanagement.com

  

  

“Our guests can expect Texas Hospitality℠ at each of our restaurants: Rudy’s Austin and Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes,” is the statement of pride from the same folks who can claim “Awarded the Highest Presidential Honor.”      

  

  

Ritz-Carlton Hotels: Lasting Success

 

Ritz-Carlton operates 89 luxury properties in 29 countries with 35,000 employees.

  

Founded in 1983, within three years, Ritz-Carlton was named best hotel group with only five hotels. In the fall of 1992, with 23 hotels under management, Ritz-Carlton became the first hotel company to win a Baldrige Award. “We realized the award criteria could serve as a road map for quality improvement,” said Patrick Mene of Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

   

   


   

     

America’s Ivy League Cornell University School of Hotel Administration built a case study around the Ritz-Carlton’s 1992 success, only to witness the company, now with 36 hotels, collecting the service category Baldrige Award from the president of the United States for an unprecedented second win in 1999.

 

 

 Ritz Carlton Logo 600px

Image via www.ritzcarlton.com

 

  

Did the lessons learned from the process of self-assessment and improvement stick? In July 2015, J.D. Powers and Associates released the results of their 19th annual satisfaction survey of 62,000 North American hotel guests. Number one in luxury hotels: Ritz-Carlton.

  

How are the lessons learned from the process being shared across brands? The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Centre is now the place where executives from other companies worldwide in many disciplines come to learn The Ritz-Carlton principles of service.

  

Clearly, even in a five-star hotel, not everyone’s job is a glamorous one, yet every member of staff must be proud of the brand. The Ritz-Carlton brand motto rings in the ears of many hoteliers: “We are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

  

Former founding President and COO of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company L.L.C., Horst Schutze, explained, “’Ladies and Gentleman’ has two values to us. Of course, the first is the expression of our expectations of our employees, from the president to the vice president to the last housekeeper or dishwasher. It expresses to them an expectation of how to behave, look and so on. At the same time it expresses a promise to the same group that they all are important to this organization. Their jobs may be different, but they’re equal. They are in service but aren’t servants.”

   
Remembering that Total Quality Management intrinsically promotes brand, and likewise to brand, it is an integrated philosophy embodied by everyone with whom it engages. Here are a few takeaways from the case study of the original Ritz-Carlton win:

  

  • Commit to Quality: This requires support throughout the organization and must be actively led from the top.

 

  • Focus on Customer Satisfaction: Customers know what quality looks like to them, and the company must meet and exceed expectations.

 

  • Assess Organizational Structure: A good, long, honest look inside the company must focus on its culture and identify any places where organizational structure could impede the drive for performance excellence.

 

  • Empower Employees and Teams: Adequate training is required so that empowered staff and teams can implement best practice from the bottom-up.

 

  • Measure Quality Efforts: It is critical to gauge efforts toward superior employee performance, streamlined decision-making, supplier responsiveness and improved customer satisfaction.

 

   

Learning, improvement and quality are integral to any successful brand, particularly one that goes after a competitive award that’s a good fit for the brand. The Malcolm Baldrige Award is estimated to have an ROI of 820-to-1. Can you identify a suitable crowning achievement that your brand might also pursue?

   

You may also like:

 

• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can it be Improved?

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

 

• Rebranding: How to Make it Through a Rebrand and Emerge Stronger  

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Branding Amazon: 3 Lessons to Learn for Your Brand Success

 

• Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know

  

  

So what do you think?

• Can you identify a suitable crowning achievement that your brand might go after?

 

• Are there any community, local, regional brand awards that you’d like to earn? Go for it!

 

• Have you crafted a mission statementand a vision for the future of your brand through your brand profiling?

 

• Do you perform an annual brand audit and SWAT analysis for your business?

 

• How does your organization create exceptional brand experiences and recognize outstanding customer-facing performance?

 

• How does your organization recognize and reward exceptional employee performance ‘behind-the-scenes’ so that peers are aware too? 

  

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

  

[1] Mark L. Blazey, Insight to Performance Excellence 2013-2014: Understanding the Integrated Management System and the Baldrige Criteria 

[2] American Society for Quality

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

There a literally thousands of excellent products and services available in the market that very few people ever purchase — even though they’ve been developed with them in mind.

 

This behaviour might seem perplexing, but it is actually quite simple: great products and services alone are not enough to motivate people to engage in a potential purchase. The product, service or idea must instead offer more emotionally compelling reasons to achieve ‘purchase’ or ‘buy in’ beyond mere facts, data and features.

  

If you want to awaken a customer, client or investor to your brand you need to engage them in an emotionally heightened state. It’s only when you trigger a strong emotional response that your brand will be noticed, remembered, picked up, referred, cause someone to smile, be curious, want to know more and so forth. Put in its most simplistic sense, if your brand is a banal ‘more of the same’ generic blend, why should anyone bother with it?

 

Your target audience needs to be drawn to what your brand can do for them, not in the literal sense, but in the perceived emotive sense of what is relevant or important to them such as familial bonding, associated prestige, excitement, relaxation, desire, safety, high risk thrills etc.

 

It’s only when you truly understand your primary audiences needs, wants, problems, aspirations and desires and so forth that you can create an emotionally compelling brand that attracts them. These in-depth insights and understanding of your customer will then enable you to develop a brand, product or service, that resonates with their needs at a deeper level and consequently drives purchase, loyalty, emphatic social recommendations among hyper-connected customers and ultimately profitable growth.

 

Simon Sinek refers to this principle as putting your “Big Why” first, before the finer details of the product, the reason why someone should care — on an emotional level — in the first place. From that central idea, you can craft your brand’s vision, its mission, its unique story, its promise and the ultimate experience a consumer will have. This is what’s also known as brand profiling.

 

It’s only when you have these critical brand foundations fully developed that you can begin to focus on other aspects of your brand strategy like brand identity, brand collateral, social media, advertising techniques, product packaging and marketing campaigns etc.

 

Without your fully developed brand profile you’re in effect attempting to develop a brand without a framework or foundation on which to base it. As Simon Sinek puts it: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

 

  


  

 

To help your brand achieve this level of singular vision and emotional connection to increase your profitability, here are some important factors to consider. Some of the following case studies may also inspire you to lead your company in a direction that drives customer engagement and action, rather than apathy.

  

 

Use Data to Help You Extract Market Insights

 

Although there are a number of exceptions, great ideas don’t often come tumbling out of thin air. Perceptive brands must often deduce them by evaluating their market carefully and from multiple perspectives.

 

Data research can give many of the much-sought answers needed, and since data propels nearly everything in this modern age, data driven strategies fit with the direction of many businesses. However don’t overlook the value of on the ground experience and exposure too—at the forefront of customer interactions so to speak.

 

Data processing agencies like the international company Annalect have discovered profound ways to link data within creative processes to give new perspectives on consumer choice as well as how those choices can be impacted. Smaller brands can harness this type of power through methods like social listening as well as by examining statistical reports provided by firms like Nielsen.

 

For instance, a Nielsen report from February discovered that despite a professed public interest in healthier eating, “indulgent” food sales have not shrunk. In Europe, they have actually grown! Owners of CPG brands (consumer packaged goods) can use such information to begin crafting your brand’s big “why,” and working your way towards developing your brand’s defining values, unique brand vision, promise, image, story and overarching brand experience—in short your brand profile. We develop brand profiles for our clients through a process called the Personality Profile Performer™.

 

 

Think Socially

In today’s hyper-connected society, brands that achieve emotional resonance see greater success in both online brand affinity and reputation. This effect comes from the fact that people online are constantly in search of stories to share, and brands that have been able to master the content game early on are now cashing in with campaigns that drive interest, sharing and, eventually, conversions.

 

 

Red Bull Logo 600px

Image via www.redbull.com 

  

 

Red Bull has been able to dominate the digital landscape using such techniques, all without even bothering in many cases to mention their product. The reason is that the emotion generated by Red Bull campaigns has become so intrinsically linked to the brand image that consumers have begun to see Red Bull’s extreme stunts and sports as products unto themselves.

  

 


  

 

As an example, their Space Jump video in 2012 was streamed by 8 million viewers simultaneously, received 3.2 million tweets using official branded hashtags and a single Facebook photo of the event garnered 1 million likes, all within a few hours of the jump occurring.

  

  

Humour Sells

 

While being appropriately humorous is not always easy to achieve, those that have a knack for it can create strong connections for their brand in ways that create instant customer affinity. Humour can even be used to overcome negative or neutral emotions that would otherwise have been associated with your brand.

 

 

Nintendo Muppets

 Image via www.gameinformer.com

   

 

As an example, fans of the international video game brand Nintendo were largely dispirited by the lack of new game announcements that stirred excitement at this year’s Electronics Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Some announcements generated a positive response, but overall the video game press reported both highs and lows.

 

Yet, despite the lack of a single, overwhelmingly-exciting announcement, Nintendo was still able to strike a chord online and earn millions of social shares and renewed brand attention. How? With Muppets!

  

  


  

 

Nintendo decided that a humorous, borderline-whimsical presentation, using charming puppets was the best way to go about making their announcements. They even took the trouble to enlist the help of Jim Henson Studios to construct the puppets, which sparked a whole new round of accolades and adoration. This humour and originality softened the blow for gamers who were looking forward to more unexpected developments, and it strengthened the position of those who have faith in Nintendo regardless of the market’s current milieu.

  

 

Use Emotion to Engage and Share Your Brand Story

  

Emotional branding is often a shorthand that requires the audience to fill in the blanks. Priceline’s memorable stint with William Shatner as “The Negotiator” implied that the brand would fight hard to get you the best possible deal on travel rates, no matter the lengths required.

 

 

Priceline Site 

 Image via www.priceline.com

  

 

Travellers could feel empowered by having such a masculine figure at their side, but at no point were they invited to participate in the event—as in shopping through Priceline could help you “kick butt” in a way that brought those unwilling to haggle to their knees. Yes, the campaign was iconic and effective thanks to an engaging celebrity endorsement, but the emotional connection remained somewhat incomplete.

   

  


  

 

Contrast that humorous approach with Expedia Australia’s recent YouTube spot that shows ordinary people longing for an escape to experience the extraordinary. Almost instantly, viewers feel a sense connection to that yearning feeling, of being removed from the trap of everyday mundanity. Others like the cab driver exude a sense of lost opportunity. A whimsical song of dreaming also helps evoke nostalgic memories, while also connecting all of society in a commonly experienced and familiar emotional moment.

  

 

 

 

When the characters in the unfolding story use Expedia, their achievement is triumphant. A holiday is suddenly transformed into a life-changing experience through Expedia’s help. Throughout the story told in the advert we have a complete arc of multiple characters hailing from all walks of life. Expedia was the key to unlocking their dreams, but their emotions took centre stage the entire time and are what engaged us—the viewer—with a universal sense of shared feelings. We can relate to what they are feeling and consequently are much more emotionally engaged in the unfolding story.

  

 

Authentically Live Your Brands’ ‘Big Why’ to Find a Place in Your Customer’s Hearts and Minds

 

If brands are to be really successful, they must emotionally engage their primary target audience in a way that’s totally relevant and appropriate to their particular needs by tapping into their subconscious at a deeper level. This is one of the key secrets to driving brand growth and long term loyalty.

 

These emotional connections are intrinsic to human life regardless of gender, social status, occupation or even geography. They’re a universal given that stand the test of time, the key is to evolve them to maintain relevance as the market changes and transforms.

 

Your brands’ “Big Why” must be the engine that drives your branding process. Your unique vision and promise to your customers will be what they remember above all else, but if you cannot define and articulate the “Big Why” of what separates your brand from its competitors then neither will your customers. Your special “Why” should be transparent — plain as day — from the moment a potential customer sees your blog posts, your website, your social media content, your packaging or experiences your brand.

 

The full range of human emotions is at your disposal to engage your customers. The secret is to choosing which route is most effective and relevant to both your brand and your primary customer, all of which is underpinned by the outputs from your brand profiling process.

 

You can choose to use humour to remind people of what makes your company human, you can use yearning and the joy of fulfillment as Expedia has done or you can forge your own path along the face of the earth to create a unique mix of emotions that no other brand could hope to emulate. The trick with all of it is to remain true to your “Big Why” and your brand’s humanized story, its profile, and leave everything else, features and benefits to become secondary.

 

For more inspiration on how to make your brand unique and enable your brand’s “Big Why” to shine through in everything you do, you can engage our help and put our Personality Profile Performer™ System to good use. It will help you identify and amplify the key traits unique to your brand and thereby separate your brand from your competitors. Click here to discover more about how the Personality Profile Performer™ System can transform new brands that are about to be born or more mature brands in need of revitalization into market leaders.

 

You may also like:

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

Branding for Women: Why and How Women are Redefining Brands and Branding

   

Brand Promises: Are You Consisently Deliverying Yours? 

 

Packaging Design: How to Make it into an Irresistible Customer Brand Magnet

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

Brand Audits: Top 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know

 

 

So What Do You Think?

 

• Does your brand strategy encompass a unique, transparent “Big Why” that underpins the reasons you want to enter the market in the first place?

 

• Does your brand’s packaging design reflect your “Big Why” while also evoking congruent emotions on your social media channels or adverts?

 

• Would your brand benefit from a rebranding strategy that follows Simon Senek’s model of beginning with a “Big Why” then moving on to “how” and finally “what”?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

Launching a new brand is both exciting and challenging. The excitement comes in the promise of something fresh and new that could be wildly successful, be it for your well established, emerging or new startup company — and the challenge comes in getting it right the first time.

 

Evaluating, articulating, developing and documenting your new brand’s position and purpose is crucial to building a strong successful brand. It provides the roadmap and rationale to get you out of the starting blocks and heading in the right direction towards your ultimate success. And similar to your business plan, it’s also a key foundation to any successful business, be it product or service.

 

   Top 10 Branding Tips For Success 600px

   

  

Getting your branding right, from the beginning, is particularly important when you consider it typically costs far more in the long run to rebrand again in the future, if you do it badly the first time, and that’s assuming you even get a second chance.

   

To help you move in the right direction with your branding here are some of the elements we typically include in our branding process every time we’re working with a client to help them build their brand, whether it’s revitalizing an existing brand or launching a totally new brand to market. These are actionable points you should reference and evaluate before you launch your new brand — product or service — to market.

  

  

Top 10 Tips for Branding Success

  

1. Evaluate and Develop Your Brand Message

The strongest, most successful brands have a consistent message that encapsulates what the brand stands for, its promise and the expected customer experience. Your brand message should ‘show and tell’ your customers who you are through your brand story, and what defines your company—what you stand for and why you’re different, as well as what they can expect when they interact with your brand. They should be able to experience ‘what your brand stands for’ in a real tangible sense, as part of the brand experience.

  

Actions speak louder than words, so your brand will only be successful if you give your customers a compelling reason to buy through your brands mission, vision, values, promise and so forth. Your brand values and promise, the reasons ‘why’ you do what you do, must be a fully ‘livable experience’ within everything in your business both internally and externally from a customer perspective.

To use the words of Simon Sinek, ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe.’

 

Developing a strong foundation for your brand is vital to the planning and execution of your successful brand strategy.

Consider these important points:

  • What are the needs or problems of your customers?
  • How does your brand fulfill those needs or solve those problems?
  • What values and qualities are important to your brand and your primary customer?
  • What type of experience do you want associated with your brand?
  • How will your brand enhance your primary customer’s life
  • Does it make their lives easier?
  • How will your brand make your customers feel? What do you want them to feel?

  

Note: People buy with emotion (regardless of gender) and justify with rational so you need to tap into their emotional needs as much as their rational needs if you want your brand to be successful.

 

In evaluating these attributes, amongst others, you need to ensure your brand message is clear, authentic, relevant, and unique. We use the Personality Profile Performer™ system to identify, develop and articulate all the key factors mentioned, amongst others.

 

  

2. Define Your Brand Vision

How do you want your brand to be seen or perceived? Establishing the distinctive character attributes of your brand, together with how it sees the world and how the world perceives it, will help you launch with a strong consistent brand platform that captures the right audience.

 

Successful brands have a life of their own in the sense that they’re humanized entities through the personality and characteristics they portray. To be successful you’ll need to develop a clear mental image of what your brand is all about — it’s vision — together with its’ persona or character attributes before your launch.

  

Whether you’re going for adventurous, reliable, timeless, sophisticated, fun and youthful, or innovative and cutting-edge, create and develop your vision for your brand and incorporate it consistently into all your brand touch points or channels and brand collateral.

  

  

3. Get Your Employees Involved

Successful brands start from the inside out. As a well established business, entrepreneur or new startup, you have the opportunity to ensure your entire team is engaged and on board with your brand, prior to the revitalization and re-launch or new introduction to market.

  

This process is just as important if you are revitalizing an established brand or launching a new brand to market. Your team can provide invaluable insights and the more you involve them in the process the more likely they are to embrace it, take ownership and act as catalysts for change by being early adopters of new cultural behaviours throughout the business. Your brand promise is far more likely to be carried consistently across the customer experience if everyone believes in it and really lives it in everything they do.

  

 

4. Research and Develop an Intimate Knowledge of Your Customers

50% plus of marketing spend is misaligned, going to areas that don’t influence the purchasing decisions of top customers (Source: McKinsey&Company). Find out what really matter to your customers.

 

It’s impossible to target a brand audience if you don’t know who that audience is or what they want. If you want to make your brand compelling you have to know what matters to your customers and the only way to really establish that is to conduct research.

 

This can include aspects of you customer such as demographics—the age group(s), gender(s), socioeconomics, geographic locations, what they have in common, what motivates them and so forth if preferences are not strictly age related and other relevant categorical factors that help define your ideal customer.

 

Do some test marketing or research into identifying your target demographics, and then find out what appeals to them—their needs and desires, and the problems your brand can help them solve.

  

It’s also important to consider developing Buyer Personas or Pen Portraits of your ideal customer to help you shape your branding strategy. The combination of both Buyer Personas and market research or limited test run service or production run (if you’re selling a physical product) can provide you with invaluable insights. These can then help you develop and plan your branding strategy specifically tailored to meet your customers real needs, particularly when you incorporate these customer motivations into your brand collateral and various branding platforms and brand experience.

  

  

5. Evaluate, Benchmark and Rate Your Competition

A brand audit or market research prior to re-launching or launching a new brand is critical not just for your target audience, but also for your competitors. You need to know what type of competition you’re facing in your intended market, and find out what they do well and where they may be lacking. Their weaknesses are your opportunities, potentially providing you with gaps in the market that you can leverage to your advantage.

 

Once you’ve identified your competitors’ weak points or areas of poor customer satisfaction, you may be able to build a brand niche on fulfilling those unmet needs for your customers. The ability to differentiate from the competition, be that perceived or actual, is key to a thriving and successful brand. By carrying out a comprehensive competitive analysis and brand audit of your market sector, you can build differentiation into your brand from the start.

  

  

 

 

  

6. Review Your Brand Concept for Usefulness

Some new companies make the mistake of launching a brand based on hype, touting their products as “new and different” or relying on surface factors (such as beautiful packaging or a stunning logo) in order to capitalize on the brand. However, if the actual products or services are not high quality and really enhancing the lives of their customers in a way that tangibly matters to them, the brand will fail.

 

The best brands fulfill a customer need or desire, or solve problems that other brands don’t. There are many forms this fulfillment can take, whether it’s true innovation, a new twist on an existing line, or even perceived value that is higher than the competition—but the core quality must be there for any of these strategies to succeed. This is where audience targeting can be crucial, as it can take some time to identify the right demographics for your brand to serve.

 

 

7. Design a Distinctive Brand Identity

Truthfully, obtaining perfection is an impossible goal—but your brand logo should be as close to perfect as you can get when you launch a new brand. Your brand logo design is the central identifier or visual component of any brand, and a great logo can be a powerful tool for success. Think of iconic brand logos that are instantly recognizable: the Nike swoosh, McDonald’s golden arches, the Olympic rings, the Mercedes-Benz three-point star or Virgin. All of these logos help convey the values and qualities of the brands they stand for, and foster brand visibility and loyalty.

  

   Virgin Logo 600px

Image via www.virgin.com 

  

 

Take the time to create a brand logo that is unique, clean and strong, and succinctly expresses your brand, and what it stands for, at a glance. When used consistently, a compelling and recognizable brand logo will support the drive for brand success.

  

  

8. Let Your Passions Shine

Whether you’re a long established business launching a new brand, a seasoned entrepreneur or an uninitiated start-up you are uniquely positioned to infuse your new brand with the passion that led to the launch of your business.

 

All of the enthusiasm and excitement that went into creating your company should be poured into your brand development and messaging with the same passion. This will enable you to build an authentic brand that connects with your customers and evokes emotion—which in turn fosters loyalty, repeat purchase and referral for brand success.

 

 

9. Develop and Commit to Your Brand Promise—and Never Break it

Every successful brand comes with a promise to its customers. For example, Johnson & Johnson baby products makes a promise to parents that the brand will care for their baby’s sensitive skin like no other. Domino’s Pizza promises that its customers will have their orders delivered in 30 minutes or less—and reinforces that promise with a money-back guarantee.

 

What will your brand promise your customers? It is essential to not only define your brand promise, but to keep it every time, with every customer interaction. Brands that break their promises quickly fall out of favour and struggle to stay afloat in the market.

  

  

  

  

10. Maintain Your Brand Consistency

Finally, successful brands are unfailingly consistent—across every customer channel, every brand touch point, and every piece of brand collateral. Brand consistency means infusing every aspect of your brand, from packaging to marketing to in-store, customer facing staff or online experiences, with the values and promise your brand stands for.

 

It’s about far more than maintaining your corporate colours in your marketing material (although that aspect is also absolutely essential too and the reason Brand Style Guides are created). Being consistent should extend throughout your brand presentation, communication, and customer service. Creating a single impression for your brand from the beginning enables you to quickly increase visibility and recognition, and develop a loyal customer base who will spread your brand message for you.

 

Strong, engaging, and consistent branding is the critical foundation that supports all of your marketing activities, and drives the success for your company. Use a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ to get a great started with a well-defined brand that meets the needs of your target audience and outshines your competition, and you’ll enjoy a long and successful branding experience.

  

You may also like:

 

Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

  

Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can it be Improved?

  

 

So, what do you think?

 

• What excites you about launching a new brand? What are the challenges you believe you’ll face for your new brand?

  

• How well do you understand the requirements of your new brand messaging?

 

• Who is your ideal customer? What are the specific demographics of your target audience?

  

• How will your new brand differentiate from the competition?

  

• Does your brand offer the right quality and value to your customers for its positioning? How can you tie that offering to your target audience?

  

• Have you expressed your brands’ passions through your brand strategy? How will you capitalize on this?

  

• What is your brand promise, and how will you maintain it consistently across all of your brand touch points?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!