Brand Recall: 8 Strategies for Building a More Profitable Brand

82% of all high level corporate executives in the US stated that their customers had higher expectations of their companies than just three years before, 60% of executives found it difficult to please their customers, and 42% stated that consumers are using social media to shame their company into meeting increased customer demands, according to a Lithium survey.[1]

 

Obviously there is significant room for improvement in the marketplace amongst brand owners. Building a powerful brand is challenging, but consistently providing a great customer experience is central to any successful brand and consequently the quality of recognition, recall, referral, repeat purchase and overall brand affinity achieved amongst your primary target audience.

 

A positive brand exposure and customer experience is essential for developing brand trust and significantly improving brand recall, as a recent Macquarie University study has shown to be the case for durable goods. It is important to note that the study also revealed that advertising had significantly more influence on brand recall than merely personal experience for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

 

In order to improve brand recall in an oversaturated modern market, brand owners need to adopt highly effective and proven brand strategies. Here we share with you eight of the most important strategies, with several examples of both large brands and smaller emerging brands utilizing them to great effect.

  

  

Top 8 Brand Strategies for Enhancing Customer Recall and Affinity

 

1. Invest in Developing Your Brand Profile, Proposition & Purpose

The process of increasing brand recall begins with intelligent brand profile development. Your customers need to be given a reason to choose your brand over other similar options. When we work on creating a brand proposition for our clients using the Personality Profile Performer™ System, we ask them to answer a number of seemingly simple questions: 

  • What purpose does your brand serve? What’s its Big Why?
  • What unique benefits do you offer that can improve your customers’ lives?
  • How would you define the idea or proposition behind your brand in a single sentence?
  • What kind of personality, messaging and tone do you envision for your brand?

The results of this initial brand profiling process sets the foundations for all future branding decisions and communications strategies. Defining what your brand stands for may not seem complicated at first glance, but these essential questions that you need to answer play an instrumental role in determining your future success, or lack thereof.

   

  

2. Create a Strong Brand Story Which Your Primary Audience Can Relate to

The most successful brands have a deep understanding of how their primary audience thinks. They know how to entice their consumers through creative storytelling, and they do so using sophisticated story creations processes like our Story Selling System™. By telling a compelling and engaging story about the company’s history, its philosophy and core brand values, you can create a positive association between your brand and the ideals that your target audience holds dear.

 

To truly understand the power of a good narrative, one need only look at Apple’s success in establishing themselves as a brand for forward-thinking and discerning individuals, who aren’t afraid to go against the grain and value quality and performance above all else.

  

  

 

  

  

Over the years, Apple has done a magnificent job of keeping the “rebel genius” narrative alive, and has proven to be a highly effective branding strategy. The reason it works so well is that it appeals to people with a specific mindset that transcends gender, race, age and generational differences. The story of Steve Jobs – a talented young man with an idea who overcomes adversity and ultimately builds a corporate empire – is compelling enough that it saw a movie adaptation starring Ashton Kutcher.

  

There is yet another biographical film, aptly named “Steve Jobs”, scheduled to come out later this year. While not every brand has the budget or influence to finance multiple Hollywood movies, Apple’s masterful storytelling can serve as a source of inspiration and a valuable guide for any aspiring brand.   

 

A great brand story is your primary means of developing an emotional connection with your audience, and a fundamental way to inspire trust through its relatability. According to a 2012 Nielsen study[2] 58% of all online consumers worldwide trust the information on company websites and other owned media, and 50% trust the information they receive in emails that they have signed up for on company websites. There is always a compelling story behind a successful brand, but it must be carefully developed and told in the right way.  

 

 

3. Brand Audit, Research and Look for Gaps in Your Competition’s Brand Strategy

A brand audit health check can be viewed as a diagnostics tool, a way to evaluate your brand’s awareness, customer perceptions and the effectiveness of your current brand strategy. It can point out any problem areas, potential outside threats and new market opportunities. A thorough review of your business and marketing plans, your communications and brand collateral, your internal and external audiences helps provide your company with a clear perspective on the most effective brand strategy and business structure. 

 

To build a powerful brand, a company needs to be aware of and tracking what their main competitors and other industry leaders are doing. Another important piece of the puzzle is developing an understanding of your primary audience. Market research is key to acquiring deeper knowledge of the preferences, needs and behaviours of your target demographic together with developing buyer personas for each of your audience types. This knowledge will enable you to develop highly tailored brand strategies and exploit gaps in your competitors’ brand strategy.

 

For a good example of a smaller emerging brand exploiting a serious weakness of a much larger and well-established competitor, we can turn to Made Eyewear. Warby Parker had already become extremely popular, with many smaller companies attempting to copy their products, when Made Eyewear started gaining some traction in the market.

 

 

Made Eyewear 600px

Image via www.madeeyewear.com

 

  

However, the emerging brand had something that their competition didn’t – they owned and ran their own lens company in China. This enabled Made Eyewear to produce quality products at incredibly low prices, which in turn enabled them to offer unprecedented customization options through which each individual customer could express their own sense of style. Made Eyewear had the ability to engrave the stems, as well as mix and match different colour lenses and stems, to create a truly unique pair of glasses – and offer customers the ability to try out multiple frames with prescription lenses at prices that no competitor could match.

  

  

  

 

  

By controlling the entire process from how the moment the product was made to the moment it reached the customer, they were able to find a competitive edge over much bigger and well-established brands.

 

 

4. Invest in Great Brand Logo Design

Creating a great brand logo is about much more than merely designing a small image that will feature on your products, website and promotional material. When our clients come to us with a brand logo design request, they are usually looking for an expert to help them develop their brand identity. We find a lot of companies struggle with defining and articulating their brand’s proposition and purpose together with answering the questions outlined in the first item of this brand strategy tips list. A good logo serves the purpose of crystalizing your brand’s message and its core values, and allows you to communicate these to your audience with maximal efficiency.

  

  

 

  

  

Your logo should be appropriate to the market and your primary audience, and it needs to be unique and highly memorable. It is the first thing that will come to people’s minds when they think about your brand, so it plays an important role in recognition and brand recall.

  

By simply placing their brand logo in the upper corner of their YouTube ad, Libresse managed to improve their brand recall by an astonishing 300%.[3] Even the viewers who only watched the ad for a few seconds before clicking away were noticeably affected.

 

 

 

  

There are numerous aspects of effective logo design that should be considered – things like the choice of colour and shapes can have a profound effect on how the brand is perceived. You can delve deeper into colour psychology here and here to found out how colour psychology influences brand strategy.      

 

 

5. Humanize Your Brand and Engage Employees as Your Brand Ambassadors

Brands that make an emotional connection with their target audience achieve the greatest success. Despite the fact that many people believed that technology would eventually cause us to become isolated, social media statistics seem to show the complete opposite to be true – humans are social animals, and we have a strong desire to involve other like-minded people in our lives. Our brains are wired for face-to-face interactions, and consumers tend to trust word of mouth significantly more then other marketing strategies.[4]

   

Statista Social Network Facts

Image via www.statista.com

 

  

The level of trust that the general public feels for companies has dwindled over the past decade, but there is a way to reach out and earn some of that trust back – engaging your employees as brand ambassadors. As this Edelman global study has shown, consumers are highly receptive to brand promotion efforts coming from company employees.

  

  

Edleman Trust 2015 600px

Image via www.edelman.com

  

  

You can turn your employees into brand ambassadors gradually. Making social sharing an integral part of everyone’s workday is an effective way of nurturing brand advocates.[5] Apart from this, you can further humanize your brand by being highly receptive to consumer feedback, offering various perks to your loyal customers and providing exceptional customer service.  

 

 

6. Eliminate Factors that Jeopardize Your Brand Reputation

When building a brand it is also important to identify all the potential reputation risks that could undermine or destroy your hard earned reputation and nullify all your marketing efforts. We won’t cover all the details or get overly technical in this paragraph, as it is quite a vast topic, but we will provide some insight into the basics.

  

If we set aside things such as common security threats, e.g. corporate espionage and cyber-attacks, the number one reputation risk are social media blunders. Even the largest brands in the world, with impressive online marketing budgets, keep damaging their reputation with inappropriate comments, hashtag misuse, and attempts at exploiting tragedies.[6]  

 

A brand must have a preventive approach to reputation risk management, i.e. companies should strive to discover and eliminate potential risks, rather than try to deal with the fallout after the damage has been done. This can be done by focusing on a thorough exploration of all factors that can jeopardize your brand reputation by high level executives, regularly scanning the internet for potential risks and enforcing a strategy of proactive reputation risk management.

 

 

7. Reach Out to Your Target Audience Through Social Media and Build Connections

We have already mentioned that engaging your employees in social media sharing can help you create a powerful team of brand ambassadors that the public will trust, but social media can be utilized in an even more direct way – to connect to your target audience firsthand.

 

This approach has many advantages:

  • Consumers provide you with useful feedback
  • Loyal customers are given a behind-the-scenes look at your brand
  • You can organize giveaways and offer additional content
  • You can enhance your customer service
  • By encouraging social sharing, your loyal customers become your brand ambassadors

 

Social media can be used to help you tell your brand’s story in great depth, and you can make your consumers and products themselves a part of the narrative. The British luxury department store Harrods offers excellent customer service through open social media communication, and their efforts, such as their immensely successful “Twenty Ate Days” campaign that focused on promoting each of the 28 different restaurants within their store, have yielded impress results.[7]

  

There are a multitude of different social media platforms which your brand can leverage to build it’s own unique online strategies for improving brand recall – e.g. posting “How to” videos and reviews on YouTube, sparking conversations with consumers on Facebook and so forth. The skill lies in choosing the platform most suited to your product or service and your primary target audience. 

 

 

8. Be Consistent in Your Brand Strategy

Even though some companies revamp their brands every few years, household names like Nike have remained true to their core brand values, mission, promise, logo and slogan for a long time. They adapt their campaigns and brand strategy to suits evolving market trends but their fundamental brand DNA remains unchanged. They stay focused on the essentials – they market their shoes to athletes and pride themselves in a high level of sports performance.

   

   

   

 

  

Your branding must be consistent to be successful, i.e. grow from the same core brand philosophy, values, mission, promise and focus on a consistent brand voice and messaging, together with consistent quality brand collateral design across all your touchpoints, both on and offline.

  

  

You might also like:

   

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

  

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

  

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

  

• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation

  

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaign’s Ever

  

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Strategy: 7 Winning Components of a Market Leading Brand Plan

  

  

So, what do you think?

• Is your brand message clear, and in keeping with the preferences of your target audience?

  

• Does your brand have a compelling story that connects with people on an emotional level?

 

• Is your brand logo a worthy representation of your core brand values and your brand message?

 

• Are you making an effort to humanize your brand and reach out to customers on social media?

 

• Do you know what factors can negatively affect your brand reputation, and do you have a comprehensive brand risk management strategy in place?

  

  

[1] Lithium (San Francisco), “Corporate America Under Pressure From Consumers’ Rising Expectations (Press Release)”, June 2015

[2] Nielsen (New York), “Global Consumers’ Trust In ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows In Importance”, April 2012

[3] Think with Google, “Libresse improves brand recall by 300% with logo placement”

[4] Kimberly A. Whitler, Forbes, “Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media”, July 2014

[5] Sandy Gibson, SocialMediaToday, “Cognitive Dissonance: Why Social Sharing Creates Employee Advocates”, February 2013

[6] Eric Samson, Entrepreneur.com, “10 of the Dumbest Social Media Blunders Ever”, June 2015

[7] Businesscasestudies.co.uk, “Increasing Brand Awareness Through Social Media Communications (a Harrods case study)”

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 Strategy: 7 Winning Components of a Market Leading Brand Plan

This may sound obvious but how people feel about your company significantly impacts how much they’ll spend on, or refer your products or services.

  

If you want customers or prospective customers to feel positively inclined towards your brand, or indeed to become enthusiastic brand advocates, then you need a really solid and consistently applied brand strategy to make it happen.

   

Ryanair and their change in brand strategy with a ‘customer charm offensive’ initiated earlier this year is a great case in point. Michael O’Leary, CEO of Europe’s largest airline Ryanair, infamously said “If I’d known that being nice to customers was going to be so good for my business I would have done it years ago.”

 

  

Bloomberg Ryanair Charm

  

  

An effective brand strategy is a blend of science and art that engages customers, meets their needs, solves their problems and strengthens brand affinity by making them feel good about choosing your brand. In a nutshell it’s the action plan for putting your brand to work effectively in the market place to generate a positive return. 

  

When developing and executing your brand strategy it must be centred around your core brand vision, values, promise, personality, story and customer brand experience. You need to ensure you’re clearly engaging with your audience congruent with what your brand stands for, so that it authentically resonates with them. Consequently, if what you do and say is true and believable while meeting the needs of your customers, solving their problems and enhancing their lives, your customers will increasingly value everything that makes your brand worthwhile.

 

Conversely it’s also important to note that haphazard or inconsistent brand activity can sabotage the context of what your brand is all about. To use industry jargon, ‘off brand’ activity can in fact dilute or undermine the credibility and impact of your brand, together with your connection and engagement with your primary audience and the perceived value and benefits your brand offers from a customer perspective — all of which can ultimately undermine your brand’s profitability.

 

  

Getting Started with Your Brand Strategy

 

Assuming you haven’t inadvertently done any significant brand damage, through engaging in branding activities without a well thought out brand strategy, you can get back on track and put your brand to work to best effect.

  

However it does takes time and thought to build a strong brand strategy that your ideal customers are attracted to and can identify with, and most importantly, believe in. It’s also really important to identify what success means i.e. your desired outcomes and goals, and measure what’s working best to achieve those results. This is a key part of brand strategy development and an area we delve into with considerable depth when working with our clients before supporting them in executing it consistently.

 

The following are seven primary factors that can help you develop a strong brand strategy. Each piece works together to create the engine that supports your brand’s external and internal culture and perceptions. Like engines, brand strategies need regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly and achieving the required results and should be reviewed on a regular basis. Consider this your brand strategy tune-up.

   

  

1. Your Brand Strategy Must Align with Your Products or Services Offered

   

A brand is much more than a single product or a clever logo. Remember your brand logo is just your visual identifier, not your brand! However they must all work congruently together. Your company possibly evolved around one product initially or a set of similar products, so it’s typically worth including this heritage in your brand messaging, assuming it’s still relevant and a valuable part of your brand equity.

  

Most importantly your brand strategy needs to be customer centric – focussed around how you can add perceived value for your customers, how your brand more than meets their needs and helps your customers overcome their challenges and so forth. It needs to have a well developed and distinctive brand personality that engages your target customers, highlights your products or services offered and enhances your customers’ interactions with your brand.

 

Your brand profile or personality is developed using a system like our bespoke Personality Profile Performer™ System. Customers will be confused and wary if your brand attitude, marketing and messaging don’t feel right and consistent with how your brand expresses itself.

  

Occasionally we see marketing strategies that break away from what the brand is all about, expressing themselves inappropriately or in a way which isn’t reflective of the brands’ true personality or feel. These strategies typically perform poorly and at best, do little to help grow the brand, or worse still can actually damage the brand so are best avoided.

   

Apple is one of the most well-known examples of how a brand has built massive success on delivering, not only leading edge products technically but by making their brand strategy totally customer centric — making customer interaction and how the brand enhances their customers lives integral to their products and business models.

 

When someone talks about Apple, they typically do so in an emotive way, associating the brand with how easy and intuitive it is to use and how it enhances various aspects of their lives. Unless someone has geeky inclinations, you’ll rarely get a customer talking about their love of the brand in technical specification terms!

 

Regardless of the product or model purchased, be it Apple Watches, iPhones, iPads or MacBooks the overall brand experience and strategy is consistent across all of its various product lines. Apple’s products are elegantly designed and intuitive, their brand strategy reflects these attributes and amplifies their message in a way which is also elegant, and emotionally engaging, and which most importantly enables the brand to reach beyond any single device.

 

Coca-Cola does the same thing with a brand strategy which is built on triggering and associating with moments of “happiness”. It’s a brand that’s more about celebrating all the different moments of happiness in our lives and bringing people together, than selling sugary soft drinks to satisfy a thirst. Heightened emotion — happiness in this case — is what makes it memorable and compelling. That’s why its adverts work even when there’s no product shown.

  

  

  

    

For small brands, it’s vital to align branding and products. Orabrush, a tongue cleaner, is a great example of how even startups can capitalize in this space. 

  

  

  

 

Orabrush has been able to create a personable brand that highlights very personal, somewhat wince-inducing experiences, around a product that is extremely personal, through social proof.

  

   

 

  

  

They’ve built a brand from very humble beginnings to worldwide distribution using YouTube videos exclusively, most of which is user generated. To build the brand, Orabrush gave away a first product for free and invited people to try it out and post their response on YouTube.

 

  

 Orabrush Bristles Wired Design 600px

  Image via www.orabrush.com

 

  

This very small company with just one product, until recently, has more online viewers than P&G, Crest and every other product in the oral healthcare sector combined!

  

  

2. Make a Keep Your Brand Promises

Every successful business makes promises and commitments to its customers. These are at the heart of your brand strategy because keeping promises, and indeed exceeding them, is what keeps customers coming back.

  

Orabrush’s brand promise is to get rid of the bacteria and other unsavoury coatings on your tongue that are responsible for 90% of bad breath. The promise is entirely personal and requires trust for people to believe it. That makes the brand strategy of social proof through public endorsements especially effective.

  

  

   

  

By using ordinary people that the audience trusts to pitch their product, Orabrush demonstrates a commitment and delivery of its promise building trust before many customers even try it for the first time.

 

The important part of branding around your commitment is to be consistent in the execution. Make a promise and deliver every time; and if you can’t, apologize quickly so customers can see you’re human and working hard to fix things fast.

 

Keeping your commitments to everyone, not just the final customer, is important. The restaurant chain Arby’s has a deal with Pepsi to feature its soft drinks in at least two Arby’s commercials each year. Last year it forgot and almost failed to live up to the deal. Campaigns were already made, so the brand needed a new commercial.

 

Its mea culpa was public and heavily touted Pepsi – definitely worth the 30-second watching – and did great things for the brand. The commercial had high sharing volumes on social media, got a lot of press coverage and the majority of comments on news stories were positive.

 

  

  

  

Taking responsibility builds trust and improving trust enhances bottom lines. We’ve seen clients achieve stronger results when their brand promise is integral to their brand strategy and consistently delivered, and when the occasional glitch has occurred, being willing to own up to their mistakes quickly.

  

  

3. Leverage Public Relations as Part of Your Brand Strategy

 

If you choose to use public relations within your brand strategy then it too must also be built on, and congruent with your overall brand strategy. Done well, it can help you amplify, build and leverage your company’s brand reputation and establish the perceived market leadership you need to build or maintain that image.

 

A good PR strategy helps your brand tell its story relevantly, coupled with highlighting its industry, social and public successes. It can be especially effective when you don’t have a large advertising or media budget but it must be executed effectively and consistently to get the desired results. 

 

 

4. Online Marketing

  

Brand strategies, large and small, can include a range of channels to show your primary audience exactly who you are, what you stand for and what you offer in a way that’s most relevant to your customers. Most effective brand strategies today must include digital in the mix. These elements need to be fully integrated, with a look and feel that is consistent throughout your communications and appropriate to where your customers interact most. A professional services brand might include their primary focus on their blog, YouTube and Linkedin while an FMCG brand might favour Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.

 

Brands with a clearly defined and articulated mission and purpose — communicated consistently in both their offline and online dialogues — develop much stronger brand identities, all of which results in enhanced brand perceptions and most importantly increased profitability.

 

A good online brand strategy team can also help you stay current with what’s happening in your industry by tracking digital information e.g. what the competition is up to and where customers see gaps in service. Attentive listening can help you identifying weaknesses in a competitor’s offer and then use it as an opportunity to present your brand as the solution that meets your customer’s needs. It can also help you develop new product solutions driven by what your customers are specifically requesting or looking for.

 

From 2006 to 2009, Apple ran a solid campaign against Windows with 66 different “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” TV spots. Adverts were built specifically around the complaints in the PC space and presented Apple as the alternative choice with a solution that solved all those issues. 

  

  

  

 

Apple had a strong team that was listening to people, conducting interviews and cataloging competitor problems. Consequently Apple’s commercials were built around how they solved the problems identified in the competitor brand.

  

It was all done with a humorous touch, which also helped increase Apple’s customer rapport, creating an overall brand perceived to be reliable and intuitively easy to use. It was a strong campaign that led to growth throughout its run. The adverts were shown on TV as well as on YouTube, enabling them to be accessed and shared across a wide variety of social media sites and channels.

  

One of the most important reasons for having an integrated offline and online strategy is that some of your customers want to shop in person and others want to shop online. Lines between the on and offline worlds are becoming more and more blurred so your brand strategy needs to consider meeting the needs of your customer through a fully integrated solution for both.

   

  

5. Make Customer Recognition Part of Your DNA

 

The success of a company is built on many different people and customers. Strong branding strategies incorporate recognition of people both within the business and loyal customers externally because it makes a business more productive and profitable. It’s also conducive to better company morale, stronger brand culture and enhanced customer relations.

  

Recognition enables your customers to feel like they’re part of your brand; it makes you more human, trustworthy and engaging.

 

Discounter T.J. Maxx is a good example of using customer recognition to build brand engagement. It built its recent brand strategy around how their core customer thinks and shops. Adverts highlight its customers as fashion-forward and able to pull off stunning looks, while still saving money. The branding started with adverts and its “Maxxinista” push, which it promoted on social networks.

  

  

 

 

It really stepped up its game when it began sharing all of the shopping hauls customers were posting online, providing instant recognition to loyal customers. The retweet and share efforts were so successful that it built an entire site dedicated to recognizing its shoppers.

  

  

6. Track What You Do

 

It’s a mistake to leave decisions about metrics and analytics till after a campaign has begun. You need to know what you’re aiming for with your brand strategy to achieve the required outcomes or evaluate what success looks like. Brand owners who evaluate their objectives and set clear goals early on in their brand strategy process, and determine how to track those targets achieve far more than those with a less structured approach.

 

Search is also another way to start the process. Start tracking organic and branded searches before a campaign and continue through the full cycle. If you record an increase after the campaign starts, you’re building attention. If you maintain that growth momentum through the end of your campaign, you’re building a broader recognition and fan base.

 

Metrics also let you know when the message isn’t working. So if your campaign isn’t showing the desired increase in activity or you’re not improving how long people spend on your site, it’s probably time to change gears.

   

  

7. Be Rigidly Flexible

 

The final part of a high performing brand strategy is to establish limits and boundaries. You have core brand values and a brand promise, which are sacrosanct but sometimes your strategy and execution may have to adapt to meet the changing needs of your market or your customers.

 

A brand needs to have a strong brand personality, developed through brand profiling and positioning, with highly recognizable characteristics and unique ways of expressing itself so that your brand strategy has a clear road map from which to base its communications. Without this your brand strategy lacks much needed strategic direction and coherency. When you develop your brand profile using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™ you establish the do’s and don’ts of your brands’ behaviours and characteristics, all of which are used to underpin your brand strategy.

 

Define and articulate this solid centre to your brand and also establish what parts of your brand identity can be flexible or negotiable and what parts must never be compromised, otherwise you’ll lose your way and your brand will get lost in the competing noise.

 

If you shift too often, your customers may get confused and won’t necessarily trust you, and that can undermine profitability too. On the other hand, if you’re too rigid you can lose your edge and get left behind as trends and markets change. The best brand strategies work with well-defined boundaries of what can and what can’t change. It all requires a delicate balance and brand profiling provides that much needed strategic direction to hit the magic tipping point for your success.

   

Change doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Clearly define where you’re willing to compromise and your branding team will have a clear roadmap to keep your brand on track and your brand’s image safe. Brand strategies that anticipate market changes or roadblocks can adapt without losing their core identity.

  

Like all successful brands, many of our clients have had to evolve their brand strategy and image over the years, and the greatest successes come when everyone understands and can articulate their core brand DNA. This then empowers them to make choices around where their brand can be evolved to move forward strategically and meet the needs of a constantly moving market place. The secret lies in having a well developed brand strategy and then also being able to evaluate when, where and how to best adapt to stay relevant — to be the brand leader within your niche in your market sector.

 

You may also like:

 

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

 

Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

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

 

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

 

Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

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

 

  

So, what do you think?

 

• Does your branding strategy congruently reflect your products and personnel?

 

• Would a brand audit help you develop a more effective brand strategy?

 

• Are your customers being recognized and rewarded? Could a rebranding strategy which includes recognition increase your customer engagement levels?

 

• Could your existing brand collateral be better aligned with your core brand values and does it fit in with your brand strategy?

 

• Do you conduct brand audits of your campaigns to ensure they’re achieving the results you want?

  

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

 

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.

  

As most of us know, shopping has become a far more arduous affair where we frequently find ourselves overwhelmed and sometimes confused by the array of products on shelf and amount of decisions we’re required to make.

  

When presented with an assortment of 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?

 

Does it stand out from the crowd with a really strong message that attracts its ideal target audience with laser edged efficiency? Or is it guilty of the ultimate sin . . . hybrid mediocrity, blending in with every other competitor and lost in the crowd!

  

The question for under performing brands becomes how to differentiate themselves effectively from among their competitors in a way that makes it much easier for them to attract the attention of their ideal customer and convince them to buy, all in the blink of an eye.

   

  

Mc Connells 600px 

  

  

Part of the winning formula of these high performers lies in that fact that those leading brands have absolute clarity over who their ideal customer is. Consequently they’ve developed a really strong brand message, which irresistibly appeals to their particular customer who in turn sees that brand as different, distinctive and memorable in a way that’s totally relevant to their specific preferences.

 

A really distinct brand has a unique brand profile, with a clear position and purpose, which helps it cut through the competing noise so it stands out, head and shoulders above the rest.

  

By not only being perceived to be unique but also solving problems, making life easier, supplying exclusive solutions for a particular kind of customer and communicating this uniqueness through subtle and overt on pack messaging a brand can outperform its competitors.

 

However don’t make the mistake of thinking that packaging design aesthetics alone are going to provide you with repeated lotto wins! Effective design must be underpinned by a well-developed strategic focus, which provides the required creative direction.  It’s when you have those insights, understanding and a fully developed brand profile that a brand can speak directly and distinctly to its ideal customer through great design.

  

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.

  

  

Evaluate Your Market and Define Your Brand Position and Purpose

 

Before any of the above objectives can be met, brands must first define their ideal customer or customers and then develop their brand strategy to reach those customers. Their branding strategy will be guided by how they respond to several key factors that help set brands apart from one another.

   

1. Fit for Purpose

What function does your brand serve? Does it have a deeper purpose beyond the obvious — what’s its ‘big why’? Successful brands dig deeper beyond the superficial and glaringly obviousness of their product category, to something which meets the needs of their customers in more emotionally engaging ways.

A toothbrush might seem rather hum drum and ubiquitousis. It’s certainly used for cleaning your teeth, but is your toothbrush especially effective with its new cutting edge technology making it far more thorough than the competition in removing dental plaque? Is it made with materials which have been chosen to appeal more strongly to your customers with a particular set of values? Define your unique purpose, align them to your brand values and amplify these through your messaging so your brand is separated from the rest in a meaningful way.

  

2. Emotionally Engaging

An emotional connection might be seen as a secondary factor, but in reality, it’s equally important and often more important than functional benefits. Is your toothbrush commanding a more premium position that not only reduces visits to the dentist, but represents the preferred choice of professional dentists and oral hygenists, making the customer feel more confident and happier with their choice? Will your extra-thorough, VIP celebrity endorsed toothbrush, the preferred choice of ‘those in the know,’ help your ideal customer feel better and more assured they have made the right decision?

 

3. Commercially Viable

Your brand’s positioning must be congruent with your budget and marketing strategy. Your pricing strategy, for instance, could fill a gap in between existing competitor prices or command a premium. Perhaps your toothbrush is perceived to be so much more superior compared to its nearest competitor that a higher price point is justified.

 

Remember that pricing can be seen as a direct value-added relationship, but higher price points or margins can also be achieved by altering brand perceptions in relation to the brand’s position to appeal to a more upscale market through premiumisation, also known as premium brand positioning. 

 

4. Translates Regionally, Nationally or Internationally as Required

Brands looking to scale must plan for regional or national differences combined with having absolute clarity of their buyer personas, also known as customer profiles or pen portraits of their primary target audience, if they intend to penetrate other markets. A brand positioning and profile that works well for one region may not translate so well to another, even on an island as small as Ireland or the UK. Will your ultra-premium toothbrush, which appeals to high end Londoners, be seen as irrelevant by customers in Leeds?

 

Combining answers to these factors and questions will help you create an overarching brand profile that matches the needs of your core customer profile. A fully developed brand profile will typically include how your brand communicates its unique:

  • Vision — The way your brand sees the world and consequently stands out
  • Values — What matters to your brand, its aesthetics or the social causes your brand cares about the most
  • Personality — The characteristics of the humanised way in which your brand speaks to your market
  • Experience — The customer’s journey from discovery of your brand to usage, referral and repeat business
  • Promise — A combination of values and experience that you pledge to uphold to your customer
  • Story — Your brand’s purpose explained through both narrative and aesthetic choices

 

The development of your brand profile under all these key headings are what provides the much needed direction and rational for your brand packaging design. It’s one of the most important stages in the branding process and one we engage in with every client we work with before moving on to design or communications strategy, assuming the research or brand audit work as also been completed before hand.

 

Every considered detail in your packaging design from the colour palette to the typography, messaging and copywriting, graphics, photography or illustration references these factors to ensure the design route chosen is relevant and effective — or what’s known in industry jargon as being ‘on brand’.

 

To give you a better idea of how this process informs packaging design, here are some examples of strongly-positioned brands aided by unique package designs in order to establish a compelling shelf presence and wholly original brand position. 

  

 

Three Examples of How Effective Packaging Design Can Influence Customer Brand Perceptions and Buying Decisions

 

Lovechock

Dutch brand Lovechock recently underwent a major rebranding overhaul, pulling off their transition beautifully. Their new package gives them a unique shelf presence, atypical to competitors in their category, through a simple shape and strikingly singular vision. The overall effect of the packaging is one that engenders trust amongst those customers looking for “free from” products of natural origin.

 

 Lovechock Pure 600px

 Image via www.lovechock.com/en/ 

 

Colour

Plain, brown kraft cardboard boxes not only speak to environmental values, they also conjure up the rich tones of the chocolate itself. A band of vibrant and natural-looking colours on the differing product labels ensures each variant is clearly distinguishable from the next while also enticing the palate with colours that excite the senses.

The simplicity of the outer pack hides a wonderful surprise inside. Open the pack to find the beauty of illustrative patterns reminiscent of decorative hardcover book end papers. This subtle design element surprises and delights, connecting to their “happiness inside” tagline whilst broadcasting the brand’s personal value set that something simple and natural can hide a deeper inner beauty.

 

     Lovechock

Image via www.lovechock.com/en/ 

 

 

Typography

Continuing with their “raw” theme, Lovechock uses clean and modern sans-serif fonts but with a “chunky” look that reminds you of the products natural and ostensibly handmade origins. An all-lowercase logo and “happiness inside” tagline are contrasted with the all-uppercase “100% RAW CHOCOLATE” to clearly indicate the product’s difference from the majority of its competitors.

 

Illustration

A simple logo in the style of the hand drawn whimsical feeling typeface continues the product’s handmade, printmaking aesthetic. The little Aztec man speaks to the chocolate’s Central American roots. He holds a “molinillo” which is a two-handed tool for whisking chocolate and blending cocoa beans into an even mixture. The end is covered in chocolate to form a heart, blending “love” and “chocolate” together. Small hearts emanating from this first heart show how positive feelings can emanate from a single, natural source.

 

  

   

  

Structural Packaging Design Details

Lovechock uses a simple shape and an unfolding box to hark back to a time when packaging was of a more handmade aesthetic. The long, blocky shape also reminds customers of the mouthwatering, log-shaped product inside, so that each bar’s box is delicious-looking by association. A tiny visible patch of the inner pattern is also used to tease the mind about the hidden pleasures and secrets the box holds inside.

 

Packaging Digest called this approach “seductive,” and when the ideal customer opens the pack to see the product and beautifully patterned paper lining inside their expectations will have been exceeded, assuming of course the test excels too!

  

The package also uses 100 percent recyclable materials to give back to the earth that produced the chocolate while also helping customers spread the love rather than their love of chocolate hurting the planet in return — all of which is totally congruent with Lovechock’s core brand values, vision, story and brand promise.

 

 

Marmite

Marmite is a brand with a rich historical legacy stretching back to the nineteenth century and yet it’s managed to maintain primary consumer relevance combined with tradition throughout the decades. Admittedly this is a very British brand with an almost a cult like following between consumers who love this spread with its distinctive, powerful, salty flavour and those who don’t — and not much in between. Marmite knows this and plays to its polarising factor to the full in its branding strategy — to great effect.

  

This is a brand with a strong personality, individualistic and singular in its outlook and a clever sense of humour that is very British in its quirkiness and eccentricity. It has a really distinctive brand voice that is unmistakably memorable ensuring it really stands out, indeed proudly shouts out its idiosyncratic and unrivalled specialness!

  

     Marmite History Jars 600px

 Image via www.marmite.co.uk

   

  

Every pack successful expresses this brand’s unique personality. Its’ bulbous shaped jar is a very distinctive shape and it has been sold in this shape since the 1920’s. Even without a visible brand name it’s entirely recognisable and consequently a very definitive unique part of the brand’s identity. An owned asset, which can’t be copied!

 

 

 

   

   

Part of Marmite’s incredible success can be attributed to its limited or special editions brand packaging strategy, which it started in 2002 with its 100th year anniversary. Each limited edition jar has successfully encapsulated more of the brands uniquely British personality through its messaging and choice of language, and personably use of the British vernacular.

 

   Marmite Limited Editions 600px

Image via www.marmite.co.uk

 

  

Since then the brand has released a significant number of limited editions packaging design lines with great success. The brand has also aligned with other iconic brands in its limited editions packaging strategy. A great example is the limited edition Marmite Guinness range produced in just 300,000 250g jars using 30% Guinness yeast in 2007 which elevated the brand in terms of profile and positioning.

 

 

 Marmite Limited Editions2

 Image via www.marmite.co.uk

  

   

The brand’s most recent limited edition packaging is themed around ‘Summer of Love’ and ‘Summer of Hate’ Marmite jars which are only available from July next month until September. Only ninety-four ‘Summer of Hate’ jars will be available across the UK (one for each day of the UK summer). Such scarcity will make them even more appealing as collectibles amongst its fans. Made with a ‘lighter summery blend’, the packaging takes its inspiration from Woodstock and the summer of love in 1967, playing on its nostalgic provenance to the full.

   

 

Marmite Summer Limited Edition 600px

  Image via www.marmite.co.uk

 

 

 

Boss Monster Card Game 

Sometimes, a packaging concept can be so powerful that it stands in as a major selling point of the product unto itself. American card game designer Brotherwise Games struck a chord of nostalgia with Kickstarter funders.

 

  

 Boss Monster Cards 600px

 Image via www.brotherwisegames.com

 

 

Accuracy of design was absolutely crucial to this concept in order to win over the right type of fans. The box containing the card decks looks uncannily identical to a product box for original Nintendo Entertainment System games of the late ‘80s, all the way down to the shape of the illustration border and the placement of badges.

 

Card game enthusiasts were so enthusiastic about the nostalgic element of this packaging design that they funded the game’s initial Kickstarter campaign well beyond all the initial funding goals.

 

  Bossmonster Box Sleeve 600px

 Image via www.brotherwisegames.com 

 

 

Many buyers were adamant about getting the special packaging sleeve that slid over the original package and mimicked Nintendo’s famous first “Legend of Zelda” game box. Products like these create strong emotional connections, develop cult followings and invite “unboxing” videos galore on social media.

 

 

   

  

 

Conclusion: Plot Your Unique Brand Path Then Journey Down It Fearlessly

In an ideal world all agencies, organisations and companies would invest resources into developing their brand strategy to ensure that it is fit for purpose, emotionally engaging and commercially successful in the short and medium term while also ensuring that it translates nationally and internationally as required across all its relevant markets.

 

With so many choices and options available be it at the local supermarket or online, brands cannot afford to be unclear or equivocal about their brand’s positioning, promise, personality or the way in which it communicate its values. Instead, the brand packaging must be like a lightning rod drawing energy and enthusiasm towards the shelved product.

  

Our experience working with many clients over the years has repeatedly brought to the fore that one of the many challenges organisations and businesses face is evaluating and developing the most effective positioning and profile for their brand — the best way in which to engage their primary target audiences and give them a compelling reason to engage and become loyal brand advocates. It’s the uppermost issue that challenenges brand owners and managers all the time, and the reason why we developed the Personality Profile Performer™, a systemized process to provide them with a much needed solution. 

  

People buy with emotion, regardless of gender, and justify with rationale. Consequently, every brand needs to be grounded in emotional appeal by tapping into the emotionally motivating factors that most readily engages their primary audiences. After all, there are very few, if any, truly new-to-the-world ideas anymore. To be perceived as truly distinctive, a brand must convey more compelling, sustaining differentiation, and the best way to do so is through emotion, as evidenced masterfully by Apple. Tying service, product details or even ideas to emotional values and seeking emotional connections with your primary audience cultivates more meaningful, sustained customer relationships.

  

In order to forge this type of relationship, your organisation needs to create an emotionally compelling, humanised brand through a highly-developed brand strategy. Part of this task includes shaping your brand, defining it and articulating what it is “all about” as well as what it stands for in the global scheme. Developing your brand’s profile involves defining: vision, values, personality, experience, promise and story, coupled with hierarchy planning — all focussed around the needs of your primary target audience. This process is accomplished using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™, which we use when working with our clients.

 

Applying a strategic approach in this way provides stronger direction and the essential brand foundations required for positioning, differentiation and directing the creative expression of the brand or design outputs — e.g. brand logo design, brand collateral design, web design, packaging design, etc. All of these elements can only come after the brand foundation work has been completed. The outputs from Personality Profile Performer™ help identify, and amplify differentiating brand messaging which is also used to shape the bespoke nature of integrated marketing communications as well as PR focused around the needs and preferences the primary target audience.

  

In the end, your brand must be able to speak to the world through its packaging in a clear, distinct voice that not only resonates with a clearly identified group but impels them to take action. Successful brands are able to reinforce emotional customer behaviours to the point where repeat business almost becomes a ritual in loyalty. Unsuccessful brands are faceless generic packs gathering dust on a shelf before they disappear forever.

   

You may also like:

  

Colour in Brand Strategy: Colour Psychology and How it Influences Branding

 

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

 

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

 

Packaging Design: How it Can Make or Break Your Brand

  

Humanizing Your Brand: Why it’s Key to Commercial Success 

  

 

So what do you think?

• What promises does your brand strategy make to your primary customers?

 

• Does your product packaging design accurately distil your brand’s promises and the values they hold dear?

 

• Are the colours, graphics, typefaces, illustration or photography style used in your packaging design conveying the right brand messages?

 

• Are you doing everything you can to reduce your packaging’s carbon footprint or impact on the environment?

 

• Are there elements of your current packaging design that no longer serve your brand appropriately, or no longer fit with current trends within branding or packaging and would be best eliminated as part of your rebranding strategy?

  

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

Brand Honesty: Why and How It Pays to be Truthful

Openly, honestly admitting your brand’s flaws is a daunting prospect, but it just might save your bottom line or even help grow it!

   

Few companies willingly confess their problems, but most customers notice those problems. Whether it’s an unclear label on some packaging that makes it difficult to read the ingredients, a supply chain that’s less than green, or terrible Wi-Fi at your conference table, attempting to hide flaws often leads to unrealistic customer expectations. When assumed standards aren’t met customers have poor experiences. They can become a source of frustration, which in turn can potentially boil over into anger. You can avoid those brand disasters by managing customer expectations through a well developed brand strategy and proactive messaging aligned with your core brand values — and properly developed brand packaging where applicable.

  

The easiest way for you to manage your customers’ expectations, minimize unrealistic frustrations, and show that you care is by being honest. Share all of the information that customers need – the great and the not so good – and you’ll create a level of trust with each customer interaction.

   

After you’ve established trust, you can leverage it by showing customers how you’ve overcome challenges or limitations. Manage expectations and your customers will not only forgive the big problems, they may even completely ignore the small ones like Velocity marketing did when it took a chance on an honest restaurant.

  

One great thing about honesty is that it standouts as a strong part of your brand voice when it’s an integral part of your brand strategy, marketing, sales and service. Now, you have to decide if you want that benefit.

 

 

8 Ways Brand Honesty Pays

 

1. What Does an Honest Brand Voice Do?

 

If customers believe your brand is honest and authentic, they’re more likely to trust the claims that you make.

 

For example, let’s say you have a system that truly saves procurement professionals 3% on every bulk order. If you’ve previously made similar claims but customers haven’t been able to achieve those savings, your messaging will seem like just another pitch. But, if you limit or frame your guarantees to very specific usage applications that customers can achieve, they’re more likely to believe and trust what you say.

  

Part of remaining believable is explaining your promotions and promises. If that 3% saving requires a continuous monthly order of more than 1,000 units in OEM hardware, that is the truth whether or not the marketing says so.

 

For FMCG brands, honest branding makes your claims far more believable — even if it goes against previous experiences. This is well evidenced with a brand sold in India, in a category that is very busy in terms of competitors all claiming similar things and nothing really significantly differentiating them or having much brand impact.

Heat can cause significant skin irritation and itching in hot climates, with prickly heat being a common and very uncomfortable skin ailment, especially in places like India. Many products on the market in India claimed they would provide instant relief, but that’s a claim very few – if any – brands could actually deliver on. Instead of making the poor “instant” claim, Medimix’s Prickly Heat Powder promises relief in three days.

 

 Medimix Prickly Heat Powder

 

 Image via www.cholayil.com 

 

The brand was able to quickly climb to a top seller in this category with a series of honest adverts about its three-day window. The observations that kids scratch their prickly heat skin itch without any inhibitions, a bit like monkeys, became the inspiration for this brand’s honest story. One of the best is this “Monkey” spot that shows it actually taking three days to find that sweet relief. Even if you don’t speak the language, the message is clear and feels extremely genuine.

  

  

  

  

Take it out of the fine print and make it a clear part of your sales communications. This honesty ensures your audience knows what to validly expect and it makes you far more trustworthy. The important part is that this honesty and openness will improve your brand reputation, even among prospects that aren’t suitable for availing of your offer.

And your brand reputation is more important than price when it comes to online sales.

 

 

2. From Problem Selling to Problem Solving

 

Today branding is all about meeting your customers where they need help and making their life easier. Yes, you do this through selling goods and services, but today’s customers crave a relationship. That means they’re more likely to feel spurned when things go wrong and consequently voice their feelings freely, particularly online.

 

If you have dissatisfied customers who are active on social media, you’re more likely to see a complaint out in the wild. That’s a trend that’s been on the rise since 2012.

 

Building your brand as an honest operator can help reduce the amount of complaints you see online by focusing your branding on what you truly provide. Don’t conflate capabilities; offer true solutions to problems. This excites customers by showing that you’re able to view the world from their eyes and work on problems that matter most to them.

 

When our clients have shifted from sales approaches to a customer centric service focus, and integrated this into their branding and marketing strategy, their customers responded very positively. Get rid of overt sales tactics that push the “buy, buy buy!” message and replace it with an honest evaluation of how your goods and services solve problems, and you’ll see those digital complaints turn into digital thanks.

 

 

3. Keep The Customers You Really Want

 

Honesty can sometimes scare away customers, but that’s part of your brand filter too. Those are probably the customers who were pursuing products, services or support that did not necessarily relate to your core competencies or align with your brand values.

 

Being forthright about your strengths and capabilities will enable you to attract your ideal customers who need the solutions and products you offer. Those who your honesty deters are more than likely poor leads – they would probably need significant inputs in areas that may not be a good fit with your core business model and likely be less satisfied with your brand.

 

Honest communication allows you to focus on and attract customers with a high lifetime value, while reducing the time and effort your sales and service teams deal with low lifetime value customers. It’s not a loss, it’s separating the chaff from the wheat. A its most fundamental that’s what effect branding is all about, attracting your ideal customers and deterring those who are not a good fit.

 

We’ve found clients achieve more success when they focus on core, high-value customers and connect to them on an honest brand level, living their brand values through how they operate internally, their brand culture, and the positive experiences they create for their ideal customers.

 

 

4. Honesty Sells, No Matter How Bad It Is

 

Would you stay at the worst hotel in the world?

   

Hans Brinker Hotel

Image via www.hansbrinker.com 

 

 

Amsterdam’s Hans Brinker Budget Hotel thinks you will. And it also thinks you’ll love the experience so much you’ll tell everyone you know. Even if you never stay there, you’ll probably be inclined to share its adverts when you spot one.

  

 

  

  

 

The brand doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it can poke honest fun about the fact that its forks will be bent, heating is just another blanket, and “it can’t get any worse, but we’ll do our best.”

  

The Hans Brinker has been advertising itself as the worst for more than 10 years because it wants customers who aren’t looking for the best. It focuses on the typical hostel tourist, backpacking across Europe for adventure or at least a temporary escape from college. That means it has created a large amount of buzz with each advert and continues to attract new customers.

Even when it promotes the germs and bugs that live in its sheets!

   

       

 

  

 

5. Honesty Helps You Make A Successful Come Back

 

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) had a somewhat “unflattering” reputation, but it wasn’t a strong selling point for the brand. It hurt market share and provided opportunities for the rise of Google’s Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. For many Internet Explorer became the Web browser that people simply used to download other Web browsers.

 

When Microsoft wanted to unveil IE9, it had to acknowledge the problems of the old browser or customers simply wouldn’t have listened or believed them. So, Microsoft fessed up to its shortcomings and pushed honesty as the chief message for all the people who grew up with IE and its issues.

 

Microsoft began rebranding its browser with a pitch that harkened back to the nostalgia of the 1990s and it’s slower pace. It focused on the differences between the end of the analog era and what digital media has brought, noting that the brand grew up just like its core set of users. But, throughout all of its branding, Microsoft acknowledged the imperfections and showed how it changed – and only where it actually changed.

    

   

  

 

Our experience has shown that clients with brand challenges have been able to revitalize their brands more successfully when new brand messages are honest and open about past shortcomings, failures and successes. Saying the right Mea Culpa can improve your standing and help reconnect with customers who previously might have left through frustration and annoyance.

  

 

6. Honesty as a Competitive Advantage

 

Most brands aren’t at the top of their industry. We all want to be, but it’s a commercial reality that someone is going to come in second. If that’s you, being honest about it can garner a lot of attention.

   

 Avis We Try Harder 600px

 Image via www.avis.com

 

 

One of the biggest companies to embrace this has been Avis. The car rental service acknowledged competitors in its adverts for more than 50 years but consistently ran with the slogan: “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder” – later shortened to “We try harder.” They didn’t aim to win business by saying they were the best. Avis told you what its competitive advantage was – trying harder than the rest – and its adverts worked to show that for over 50 years.

   

   

 

 

   

Whether it’s a 1978 ad explaining what the brand does behind the scenes or another from more recent years that shares a true customer experience with someone going the extra mile, Avis lived its brand values and its promise, expressed through it slogan, and consequently was perceived to be an honest brand.

  

      


   

    

7. The B2B and B2C Honesty Commitment

 

Transparency is the order of the day for all brands be they B2C or B2B, from sourcing and logistics to software or the total cost of a product. Every customer wants to know as much about you, your values and your product or service costs as possible.

 

Transparency is simply the buzzword that means demonstrable honesty. A client who wants you to be more transparent is asking for you to provide honest claims and assessments, with tools, reports and other information to back up what you’re saying.

 

Transparency is also a key factor in making your other competitive advantages viable. If you’re trying to promote sustainability, two of the most important factors for your customers will be their awareness of a positive impact and the believability of your impact claims, according to a study from the United Nations Global Compact.

 

 

8. Make Your Brand Extraordinary with Honesty

 

An 80-year-old shirtless man running on a bridge kicked off one of the most well-known branding campaigns ever: Nike’s “Just Do It.” In just 32 seconds, Nike presented a simple, honest message that told a story everyone could relate to and was impressed by. It helped Nike jump from $800 million in sales to $9.2 billion in under 10 years.

  

  

 

 

  

Nike built its brand on an honest statement that didn’t promise anything it couldn’t provide: You do it, and Nike helps.

 

Your brand doesn’t have to come up with anything as minimalist or iconic as “Just Do It,” but you can take lessons from the approach of Nike, Avis, Microsoft and Hans Brinker. They show their flaws, highlight their strengths, don’t over-promise, and poke a little fun at themselves to show their human side — all of which gets us emotionally engaged. 

 

Remember, people buy with emotion and justify with rational, regardless of gender. If you want your brand to connect with your primary target audience you must engage them emotionally, in a positive way that’s relevant to them, and honesty is integral to that lasting connectivity.

 

We’ve seen clients significantly enhance the perception of their brand and consequently their bottom line when they implement these fundamental pillars as part of their brand values. Is it time to try your hand at all of them and integrate brand honesty as part of your brand strategy?

Honesty is not only the best policy, it’s among the most profitable ones too.

 

You may also like:

  

Brand Promises: Are You Consistently Delivering Yours?

 

Humanizing Your Brand: Why It’s Key to Commercial Success

 

Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

Destination Branding: The Key Essentials for Success

  

 

So, what do you think?

• Would customers consider your branding and packaging design honest?

 

• Do you need a rebranding strategy to find a candid, authentic brand voice?

 

• Are there limitations you can acknowledge as part of your brand strategy that would ease the burden on your customer service?

 

• Could any of your brand collateral create customer misconceptions about your products, service or even core brand values?

 

• Would you stay at the worst hostel just for bragging rights? What would a brand audit highlight as part of your brand’s bragging rights?

  

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!

 

 

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

Your brand is much more than merely product or service related features and benefits, or a logo. Brands are an experience—the relationship between your business and your customers. In 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.” In other words people buy what your brand stands for, something that has meaning – which is both personal and important to them. And in order to create an exceptional customer experience, underpinned with strong meaning, your brand must have an irresistible personality.

 

Typically, customers choose one brand over another because they’ve made an emotional connection with that particular brand because it means something important to them and they trust that brand. While that connection may sometimes be the brand with the lowest price, more often than not it’s due to the distinctive personality, characteristics, values and behaviours of a brand – the emotional experience and meaning that association with that brand gives them.

 

Martyn Newman, PhD, consulting leadership and emotional intelligence psychologist and best selling author of ‘Emotional Capitalist – The Ultimate Guide to Developing Emotional Intelligence for Leaders’ is one of the leading speakers at Europe’s largest EQ Summit in London in March 2015. Newman talks about emotional capital; the asset on the balance sheet you can’t afford to ignore. In short without sounding cynical, “there’s money in emotion”, “trust is fundamentally built on an emotional experience and emotions are involved with everything a company does. Emotions determine whether or not people will work well with you, buy from you, hire you, or enter into business with you. For this reason, the value of these emotions eventually shows up in financial performance.”

  

“In the new economy it is no longer sufficient to view a company or a brand simply as a commercial entity and its assets cannot be fully accounted for by inventories of financial capital and not even human capital.” “Ultimately, the only way to create real profit is to attract the emotional rather than the rational customer by appealing to their feelings and imagination.”

  

  

Martyn Newman Brands And Emotion 

 Image via www.eqsummit.com

  

“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.”

   

Brands that compete on price alone fight in a commodity driven arena where only those with the deepest pockets win. Brands with strong, compelling personalities are able to rise above this lowest price, dog fight and command premium pricing, greater market share, and an expanded base of loyal customers.

 

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. It gives you a clear understanding and expression of what your band offers and what that means for your customers, partners, and key audiences.

   

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.

  

1. Know Your Market

Market research is crucial for any successful brand. You need to be absolutely clear on who your target market is in terms of things like their needs, wants, loves, dislikes and aspirations. Where they live, their life stage, what they do in their leisure time and work life, what matters to them, their interests, education, holiday preferences, what other brands they like, buy or aspire to owning etc.

 

  Brand Personalities

  

  

Essentially you need to develop a ‘pen portrait’ or ‘buyer persona’ of who your ideal customer is so that you can create a compelling brand that meets their needs emotionally and rationally. And you need all this information as the basis on which to develop your brands’ profile or personality.

 

As part of your knowing your market you also need to research your competition. Where are they most successful and why, where do the untapped opportunities lie and what simply doesn’t or hasn’t worked in your market sector and so forth. You also need to find out and evaluate what your existing or potential new customers think about your competitors together with their perceptions. Remember 60% of branding is about perception and only 40% about the product or service.

 

It’s only then when you have all this groundwork covered that you can create and actively shape your brand the way you ideally want customers to perceive it. Make no mistake, customers are very intelligent and perceptive so whatever you do, or whatever approach you take, you must do it with good intent, authenticity and integrity if you want to be successful. Brands that ‘mislead’ or behave ‘dishonorably’ are always ‘found out’ and invariable suffer the consequences, particularly via social media.

 

You can gather this market research information through a variety of ways e.g. desk research, surveys, one-to-one interviews etc. Your choice of methodologies is often driven by what is most appropriate to your sector, market size, business or organization size and resources, but usually involves a combination of some of the approaches mentioned.

 

Customer surveys are a great strategy for gaining some of this important information and insights. You can design longer, more formal surveys for use in email marketing or on your business website, or use your social media channels to post quick, informal surveys. Some helpful survey types may include:

  • Give customers a list of personality adjectives, and ask them to rate your brand or multiple brands on each one, using a scale (1 to 5 or 1 to 10)
  • Display photographs of individual people and ask customers which brand(s) in your product category they believe each person would use, and why
  • Ask customers to perform free association with your brand name or slogan—list the first words or phrases that come to mind when they envision your brand
  • Provide a list of brands (including your own) and ask customers to relate them to other types of items such as cars, animals, movies, or books—for example: “If this brand was a movie, which one would it be?”

By using these direct-to-customer types of research methods, you’ll not only generate large amounts of information that will help you define the parameter of your brand personality—you’ll also increase customer engagement and interest in your brand.

 

 

2. Define Your Brand Personality

In addition to evaluating your market, you must also develop the parameters of your brand in the context of what is relevant to your primary target audience. This means determining a brand personality that will be authentic and believable for the customer, accurately reflect your brand values and brand promise, and is consistently represented across your entire brand platform, and throughout all your brand collateral.

 

Remember, your brand personality is a set of emotions and characteristics, rather like a real person, it’s a humanized entity that’s underpins your total brand experience. Brand personalities are often reflective of the target market—for example, brands aimed at Millennials may be fresh, energetic, innovative, or “fast,” while brands focusing on an older demographic base may embrace characteristics like tradition, nostalgia, and reliability.

 

As a basic start to determining your brand personality, consider which of the Big Five Personality Traits your brand falls under. Originally categorized as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, in relation to brands they are: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness.

 

These Big Five traits are traditionally used in personality tests, and virtually any brand can be related to one of them. Choosing a broad brand personality category can help you to refine this choice further in your brand profiling.

 

 

3. Create Distinction for Your Brand Profile

Once you have an overview of your brands’ personality, you need to refine your brand profile in order to differentiate from the competition. Take certain aspects of your brands’ character traits and amplify them to create increased distinction and memorability. There are many ways to accomplish brand differentiation, ranging from subtle yet continually reinforced messaging to truly stand-out separation. Regardless of the level of your brand differentiation strategy, it all begins with the essentials of your brand profile.

 

As an example of subtle distinction, major U.S. based department store brands Walmart, K-Mart, and Target share very similar operations and strategies. Yet the Target brand distinguishes itself by focusing on different elements of the brand experience compared to its competitors. Where Walmart and K-Mart typically focus on more affordable pricing, Target infuses its brand collateral and customer-facing content with style, design, and lifestyle choices. The fact that they are competitively priced and offering ‘value’ (which is not just price related) is assumed.

 

Some brands achieve distinctive personalities through a massive departure from convention. One example we’ve previously discussed is FMGC brand PooPouri, a bathroom odour control product that inverts the traditional discretion and euphemistic elegance of the industry by embracing the idea that poo stinks—and their product stops the stink.

  

  

 

  

4. Develop or Refine Your Brand Story

Brand storytelling is another powerful strategy and important part of your brand profile. A great brand story should fully incorporate and reflect your brand’s personality with compelling, memorable elements that help reaffirm, explain and exemplify what it stands for, its brand values and brand promise, how it sees the world, its humour type, tone of voice, what it likes and doesn’t like and so forth.

  

Oxo Family Brand Story 300x180

 Image via www.hootmarketing.co.uk

  

There are several methods for approaching brand story creation – ranging from actual brand origin stories that are emotional, compelling, interesting or engaging, to brand stories that restate your brand values in creative ways, to brand stories that revolve around a symbol such as a brand mascot—think the Keebler Elves, the Pillsbury Doughboy, or Tony the Tiger.

  

   

  

     

FMCG brand OXO created a powerful brand story through their series of commercials aired through the 1980s and 1990s, starring the “OXO Family.” These adverts showed the family growing up and progressively evolving through various stages of life, held together during each stage by a mum who cooked meals using OXO stock cubes. The brand story proved so effective that when the lead actress, Lynda Bellingham, passed away in 2014, more than 150,000 people joined a Facebook campaign to resurrect the advert series.

 

 

  

  

  

5. Develop a Strategic Direction

In order to use brand profiling effectively in your brand communications plans, you must have a well-planned strategic direction for infusing the personality and characteristics of your brand into your all brand collateral and various touch points. It’s essential to find creative and engaging ways to communicate your brands’ personality congruently to your customers across multiple platforms, including physical presentation in retail stores, online media and marketing channels, and internal branding with your employees and leadership team.

 

Online channels like your company website and social media channels can provide excellent opportunities to reinforce your brand personality. Use things like your company’s “About Us” page to creatively reflect the main characteristics of your brand profile—replace stiff images and droning corporate copy with carefully selected content and brand image collateral that conveys the personality you want to communicate. Engage your customers on social medial with posts that reflect your brand’s chosen qualities and characteristics.

 

 John Schnatter Papa Johns Pizza

Image via www.papajohns.com

 

Pizza chain Papa John’s employed a smart strategy when expanding their U.S. based market into the UK—translating larger-than-life chain owner John “Papa” Schnatter’s sports enthusiasm into an association with the UK’s Football League and weaving this association heavily into their social media channels. As a result, Papa John’s market share in the UK has risen dramatically over the last 12 months.

 

  

  

 

6. Maintain Brand Consistency

Consistency is critically important in every aspect of your brand strategy, and this applies to your brand’s personality as well. The more consistently your brand’s personality is reflected across every platform, every customer touch point, and every piece of brand collateral, the stronger and more established your brand becomes.

 

Brand consistency must apply to both the tangible and intangible aspects of your brand—everything from your logo and corporate colors, to your packaging, to your employees’ attitudes and customer experiences and engagement strategies.

 

With a compelling brand personality, applied consistently, you can establish a strong brand profile that increases your market share—and ultimately your profits.

 

So, what do you think?

• How well do you understand your brand personality as it’s perceived by your customers?

 

• Do your brand’s current market perceptions reflect the embodiment of the brand personality you’d like to achieve for your brand?

 

• What distinction or distinctions separate your brand’s personality from your competition?

 

• How does your brand story tie into your brand profile? Could it be better aligned?

 

• What is your strategic direction for reinforcing your desired brand personality?

 

• Is your brand profile reflected consistently across all touch points and brand collateral? How could you be more consistent and more congruent?

 

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

Top 10 Branding Articles in 2014

Have you ever wondered which Persona Branding and Design articles are the most popular with readers?

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

Today we’re giving you an exclusive peek into our top ten most popular posts of 2014, some of which you might have missed.

I know you’ll find at least one that will be very useful to your business.

Enjoy!

 

  Top 10 Branding Articles 2014

  

 

1: Top 20 Branding Trends for 2015

As 2014 draws to an end, now is the time to review, revamp, and update your branding strategies for the year to come. Successful branding is the key to driving business growth and profitability – and in 2015, it will be more important than ever to have a strong, thriving brand.

 

2: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

Building a strong brand is the undisputed key to success in today’s business world, and robust differentiation is an absolute must to build a powerful and compelling brand. There are many ways you can differentiate your brand. The skill lies is developing and applying the most effective brand differentiation strategy in a way that appropriately reflects your brand’s personality, values, promise, way of doing things and key characteristics.

 

3: Rebranding: How to Make It Through a Rebrand and Emerge Stronger

Brands are not static, unchanging identities – the most successful brands live and breathe, evolving along with changing shifts in market tastes, trends and demands. Rebranding or brand revitalisation, when properly planned and implemented, can be a powerfully effective strategy for rescuing or reinventing a failing brand, jump-starting a stagnant brand, expanding your markets, or initiating substantial business growth. A rebrand may be subtle or evolutionary in nature, or it may involve radically transforming a product, service, or entire brand.

 

4: Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can It Be Improved?

Have your sales hit a slump? Are hot new brands drawing your customers away? If your brand seems to have lost its shine, it may be time for a brand audit or brand health check. Brand audits are effectively a health check for your brand. These comprehensive, honest evaluations look at the overall effectiveness of a brand and its current position in the market compared with the competition, as well as pinpointing inconsistencies and weakness, and identifying potential areas for improvement.

 

5: Packaging Design: How It Can Make or Break Your Brand

Research shows that you have less than 9 seconds to engage your customer and close the sale. In a fast-paced and highly competitive world, packaging design has become one of the most crucial elements for communicating your brand and standing out from the competition. Your brand might be the best in its category, but without packaging that grabs your target audience, customers won’t investigate your product to find out more or see what’s inside.

 

6: Brand Naming: Top Ten Methods for Brand Name Creation

Brand Naming is all about strategic rationale, not emotion and not politics. It’s your first impression so it’s critical you get it right. A good name is a compact easy-to-communicate piece of information. It grabs peoples’ attention and makes them want to know more and it carries a hugely significant portion of your brand recognition all on its own. 

 

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

Creating a brand with an authentically strong character is central to your branding strategy success. Just as people can be larger than life, a brand’s personality can take on a life of its own. Creating a brand with an authentically strong character is central to your branding strategy success and effectively the decider between just another average price fighter or a truly magnetic and profitable brand.

 

8: Brand Promises: Are You Consistently Delivering Yours?

A brand promise is what your company or brand commits to delivering for everyone who interacts with you. A strong brand promise describes how people should feel when they interact with your brand, how your company delivers its products or services, and what sort of character your company embodies. Is your brand promise authentically ‘walking the walk’?

 

 

9. Branding Amazon: 3 Lessons to Learn For Your Brand Success

Amazon is one of the most recognizable companies in the world, occupying and serving more global regions than any other organization. While your company may not have the reach and capabilities of Amazon just yet, there are still several branding lessons you can take away from the mega-store’s strategies, positioning and brand management.

 

 Ceo Leaders Logos

 

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

The company leader is the single most powerful influencer on branding, the visionary and voice behind the brand, particularly in a small, medium or large businesses (SMEs). Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Maxine Clark and Johnny Earle are all very different visionary leaders behind their brands but they have shared characteristics – the secrets to their incredible brands success.

 

 

Which is your favourite?

• Do you have a preferred article from Persona Branding and Design that didn’t make the top 10 list?

• Which of these top 10 posts did you find most useful?

 

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

 

 

Brand Trends: Top 20 Branding Trends for 2015

As 2014 draws to an end, now is the time to review, revamp, and update your branding strategies for the year to come. Successful branding is the key to driving business growth and profitability – and in 2015, it will be more important than ever to have a strong, thriving brand.

 

In the coming year, to be successful branding will need to be even more customer-centric. Honesty, transparency, personalisation, and social responsibility will hold center stage, and the technologies that drive an effective brand strategy will be mobile, responsive, and real-time. Here’s a look at the top 20 branding trends your business can expect for 2015.

 

Top 20 Branding Trends for 2015

  

1. Authenticity Drives Success

More than ever, your customers want to feel connected to your brand. Being authentic enables this type of connection, so make this a key strategy for 2015. Use valuable content and brand collateral to engage your target market and give your customers the opportunity to participate in your brand story. You can see more about what we mean by this in our recent blog about ‘Millennial Branding’ with particular reference to how Marriott International is making its customers feel authentically connected and participatory in their brand. With authenticity, you can create an audience of powerful brand ambassadors and harness the single most effective marketing force: word of mouth.

 

    

2. Mobile Matters More

While mobile markets have been growing continually, expect 2015 to be the year they explode. More of your customers will be using mobile than ever before – and you’ll need a brand strategy that responds to their needs.

Recent research from eMarketer shows that:

  • 50% of shoppers who conducted local searches on smartphones visited the store within one day

 

  • 18% of local smartphone queries led to a purchase

 

When it comes to marketing brands online, mobile inclusion is headed into mobile-first. Make sure you’re prepared with responsive design and increased mobile spends for your brand campaigns.

 

    

3. Metrics Turn Toward Revenue

Technology continues its rapid advancement, and in 2015 brand analytics will be more focused on revenue. This is made possible through automated marketing tools that measure brand performance in real time, allowing brand strategies to adapt quickly to suit emerging trends and changing customer tastes. Real-time brand analytics will also be critical to gain a competitive advantage for your brand.

 

 

4. Segmentation is Key

Many brands have the capability of appealing to different market segments, but not all are taking the opportunity to segment and diversify their brand campaigns. But in 2015, increasingly savvy customers will know exactly what they’re looking for – and your brand needs to deliver. This includes diverse sets of brand messaging, brand channels, and marketing approaches customised to each of your target demographics. A brand needs a well developed brand profile, using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ which is used to create its story, values, promise, mission, personality, positioning and so forth in order to achieve cohesive brand messaging and effective segmentation successfully.

 

 

5. Brand Targets are Ultra-Personalized

Closely related to segmentation, 2015 will be the year of the customer, with individualised brand campaigns to match. Advanced customer data capture and innovative manufacturing techniques have made it possible for brands to deliver unique customisations, shifting the brand target from the masses to the individual. For example, Holiday Inn is moving its branding strategy toward customised holiday experiences that meet the personal needs of the traveller – from families to business travellers, young couples to adventurous singles.

  

   

6. Packaging Goes 3D

Brand packaging is a crucial component of your brand’s success, and the arrival of 3D printing technology has made it possible for brands to create innovative, customised packaging designs that draw in customers and stand out on retail shelves. In 2015, consider giving your brand packaging a boost using the latest technologies.

 

 

7. Streamlined Naming Conventions

The market is incredibly crowded, and customers’ attention spans are shorter than ever. To boost brand recognition and foster brand consistency, more brands will re-engage fundamentals and use clear, relevant names for products, services, and the overall brand itself. These short and simple names pair well with quick descriptors, creating easy-to-grasp concepts – think Google Wallet, Google Glass, and Google Play or Apple Watch and Apple TV.

 

 

8. Brand Stories Take Centre Stage

A compelling brand story will be an even more vital part of heart and mind capture to drive your brand sales strategy in 2015. Powerful and authentic stories that are worked into every element of your branding strategy can lift your brand, and provide the connection your customers are looking for. A great brand story evokes an emotional response, and most importantly, reinforces the brand experience for your customers. Creating irresistible brand stories is a key part of our brand profiling service when working with clients to help them create and build the personality of their brands, using our Brand Story Selling System™.

  

 

9. The TMI Line Blurs

For branding in 2015, there will be no such thing as too much information. Today’s customers crave transparency and want to know everything they can about a brand, often before they decide to make a purchase. Much of this transparency will be provided with updated brand packaging that clearly and efficiently conveys a wealth of information, including the brand story. As an example, Stone Creek Coffee’s Lab Series prints detailed coffee bean information on each package, including the elevation the beans were grown, the harvest date, and the name of the farmer who grew them.

  

   Stone Creek Coffee Ethiopia Chelba Cupping Notes

  Image via www.stonecreekcoffee.com

  

   

10. Cross-Channel Integration is Crucial

Brand consistency has always been one of the most important factors in the success of a brand. With more brand channels and customer paths than ever before, integration across channels is a must. Your brand design, messaging, and metrics should be presented uniformly at every touch point – from website and social media platforms to packaging, retail locations, and traditional media channels.

  

 

11. Customers will Not be Sold to

The marketing noise level is reaching critical mass. Brands that continue to “pitch” their products or services in 2015 will find themselves ignored. Customers are no longer interested in the salesy, hard-sell approach, and they’re savvy enough to know when your brand message is all buy and no bargain. Look to value-added brand strategies that highlight perception, inclusion, and the customer experience to help your brand sell itself.

 

 

12. Brands as a Consolidated Experience

Once again in the vein of brand consistency, the most successful brands of 2015 will present a singular customer experience – no matter where your customers interact with your brand. Your customers’ experience should not vary from PC to mobile to social. Look for ways to streamline your brand collateral and exceed customer expectations, delivering on your brand promise through a seamless presentation on all fronts.

 

 

13. The Video Explosion

Online video will continue to expand rapidly in 2015, and video should be an integral part of any branding strategy. Video is a popular, powerful, and engaging medium that helps brands strengthen their messaging and increase profits.

Some of the most recent statistics for online video include:

  • 100 million Internet users watch online video every day

 

  • 90% of online shoppers find video helpful

 

  • 64% of online shoppers are more likely to buy after watching a video

 

  • 80% of Internet users recall a video ad they’ve watched online in the past 30 days – and 46% took some action after watching the video ad, from visiting the company’s website to making a purchase

 

  • Video increases marketing email click-through rates by 200 to 300 percent

 

 

14. Brand “Smarketing”

The line between sales and marketing is becoming increasingly blurred, and 2015 will see even more integration as online selling converges with internet marketing. Both functions use many of the same techniques for promoting brands, including content creation and real-time engagement, and both have the same goal of revenue generation. Effective brands will combine marketing and sales into a fluid and cohesive set of strategies.

 

 

15. Brands Mobilise with Click-and-Collect

UK marketing research firm Mintel predicts that the popularity of click-and-collect (C&C) services will increase in 2015, and about 17% of all Internet retail sales will be collected by customers at these physical service points.

C&C services currently used across the UK include:

  • Amazon lockers in London Underground railway stations

 

  • Doddle pop-up parcel collection stores

   

  • Asda and Tesco C&C vans

 

  • Waitrose chilled food lockers

 

  • Argos food lockers (coming in 2015)

 

In a survey by Mintel, 35% of UK shoppers have used C&C services in the past year, and 64% say they’ll shop more online because of C&C services.

 

   

  

  

 

16. CSR Packs a Bigger Punch

Look to corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an even bigger brand trend for 2015. Today’s customers are concerned with both human rights, consumer rights and giving back to the community, and will reward brands that engage in visible social responsibility – while punishing brands that violate those rights.

Issues that matter in particular to UK consumers, according to Mintel, are returns policies, ethical treatment of workers, environmental policies, and negative press coverage. And for millennials, many make purchasing decisions based on a company’s ethical or political stance, such as brands that support the LGBT community.

 

 

17. Green Brands

More environmentally conscious consumers mean that brands must be aware of the environmental impact they have, and take steps to mitigate damage and leave a clean footprint. Packaging plays a large role in the battle for environmental friendliness. Brands that emphasize responsibly sourced, recycled, minimized, or biodegradable packaging can expect to be welcomed in 2015. This is a key consideration in all the brand packaging design projects we’re involved in with our clients.

 

 

18. Big Data Delivers Brand Insight

As the use of big data becomes more refined and accessible, brands will use it in 2015 to generate more personalisation and segmented brand approaches. Pretargeting is an emerging market strategy that uses big data to target customers based on their behaviours and preferences by delivering relevant messaging during the buying phase, instead of after it.

This type of advanced analytics can allow brands to predict trends before they’ve actually happened. Unilever partnered with Google in 2013 to do this, using big data to predict and capitalise on a rising trend in hair care. The YouTube channel launched by Unilever in response to this trend forecast, All Things Hair UK, became the number one hair care channel in its markets.

 

 All Things Hair You Tube

 

 

 

19. Social Brand Success is Pay-to-Play

Customers may be spending more time than ever on social media, but they’re spending it being social. The effectiveness of social branding as an organic strategy has diminished but pay-to-play advertising platforms on major social networks have increased in sophistication and effectiveness. Successful social brands will invest strategically in paid social media for smart, segmented campaigns, which will trickle down to increase owned and earned media effectiveness.

  

   

20. Facebook Fades for Millennial Brand Audiences

Speaking of social, in 2015 Facebook may not be the go-to network if your brand is targeting millennials and a younger crowd. While the social network with its own major motion picture is still the dominant channel, it’s far from the only game in town. Young people in particular are drifting away from Facebook – so if your brand targets millennials, it may be in your best interests to grow your presence on up-and-coming social platforms, such as Instagram and Tumblr.

  

  

  

 

At the close of 2014, take the time to thoroughly review your brand strategy. Consider a comprehensive brand audit to gain an accurate picture of your brand performance, and incorporate the trends that will change branding in 2015 with heightened transparency, authenticity, and customer-focused experiences.

 

So, what do you think?

• Is your brand strategy on track for success in 2015?

 

• How consistent is your brand presentation across all platforms?

 

• What is your planned spending for mobile? Video? Social?

 

• Are you targeting the right channels to connect with your target audiences?

 

• Does your brand platform represent timeless appeal? Could it benefit from a refresh for 2015?

 

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