Let’s say I want to have a strong brand. How do I go about building a brand? Is there a process or roadmap that highlights the steps to follow? Here are 5 steps to building a strong brand:
1. First, Be Different! Find a relevant customer benefit that you do differently and better than the competition. Ensure you have the organizational capability to continue to deliver this advantage over time and then commit to this positioning with total complete organizational focus. Look beyond the primary benefit and consider important secondary benefits as a point of difference. At Procter & Gamble, Tide is positioned on the primary benefit of superior overall cleaning. P&G’s other detergent brands have positioned themselves on other important platforms. Cheer delivers clean with superior color care and fabric protection. Gain uses fresh scent as proof of clean while Dreft focuses on gentle cleaning for babies clothes.
2. Tap into Emotion. There is a big difference between “Product speak” and “Brand Speak”.
In advertising and communication, product speak uses facts, figures, and product attributes to talk to peoples minds. It is a rational discussion design to logically convince the customer to buy your product. Brand speak goes after peoples emotions and tries to win people’s hearts. Branding appeals to what people are feeling instead of just what they are thinking. Branding understands that while people use rational thinking to help them “narrow down” what products they are considering, ultimately, the final purchase decision is almost always done on emotion. It is the emotional connection with customers that drives the success of brands like Starbucks, Nike, Apple, BMW, and even laundry detergent like Tide, Cheer, Gain and Dreft.
3. Build your Brand Image. Once you know what you stand for, you need to commit to building the image of the brand. Define how the brand fulfills the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of your customers. In addition to the positive benefits, describe how it removes negatives experiences. Make sure new product development delivers a roadmap to build on this positioning because a strong brand image starts with a real difference. Develop all aspects of your brand identity, including visual imagery, emotional appeal and verbal imagery.
4. Market the Image. Express, share, communicate, and live your brand image with “One Voice”. Make sure everyone in the company understands what you stand for, why that is important, and how they contribute to creating the image in the market. There is no better example that Disney. Every Disney employee knows their goals is to create a magical experience among their guests. They are fully trained on why and how to handle every task and every customer touch point. No detail is left out. Workers are called “Cast Members” and when they go from behind the scenes into the park, they transform into characters who have a critical role to perform whether they are acting as “Snow White” or whether they are scraping gum off the road. Everyone is “in character”. In the same spirit, every company should encourage all employees to embody the brand image of the company. From the CEO to the people in the call center, everyone plays an important role in reinforcing the brand image.
5. Measure and Adjust. As the adage goes, “What gets measured is what gets done.” Any company that wants to build a strong brand needs to measure brand equity against the competition. Understand how the brand is doing, what customers think, how different do they perceive your positioning. Use this knowledge to make adjustments and to build and refine the brand over time.
Great brands don’t “just happen”. They are conceived and diligently managed over time and with great organizational focus and commitment. But in the end, a great brand provides a strong ROI and is one of a company’s most valuable assets.
Rick Thompson is President & Founder of Brand Periscope, a Branding & Internet Marketing company in Raleigh, NC specializing in breakthrough creative and engagement marketing plans that drive results. Specific offerings include brand naming, tag lines, brand identity development, web design, SEO, PPC management, market research, word of mouth, and referral programs. Rick’s experience includes Tide Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble, Worldwide Marketing Executive for IBM’s Consumer Division, and Chief Marketing Officer at Global Knowledge and Ultimus. The company philosophy and portfolio can be viewed at,