A brand is the greatest asset your business will ever own. And the main reason why you should invest in building a strong, healthy brand lies in its very nature.
Walter Landor puts the brand concept simply: “Products are made in the factory, brands are created in the mind.”
By way of example, a soft drink product is made in a bottling plant. It delivers a functional benefit such as a nice sweet taste and has attributes such as its thirst-quenching ability. Selling at a reasonable price, it offers good value. But what makes it distinguishable from countless competitors in the market place? Most probably, nothing at all.
A well-known soft drink company, on the other hand, has spent many years (and a great deal of money) in developing a heritage, a powerful brand name, a ribbon symbol and a perception of quality. It also projects a fun-loving personality, plus the emotional benefit of feeling great. People believe that it refreshes.
This is worth remembering as you go about building your own brand. Everything you do must create the perceptions, beliefs, attributes and associations that will make your brand stand out from the crowd and encourage people to buy it.
How healthy is your brand at the moment? You can go about measuring it by looking at four key attributes that make up a healthy brand – differentiation, relevance, esteem and knowledge.
Probably the most important attribute is Differentiation. Ask yourself, “What is remarkable about my brand? What makes it truly different from every other competitor in the market?”
The second important attribute of a healthy brand is Relevance. “How well does your brand answer the needs of its target market? Does it fulfill a consumer need or offer a solution to a problem experienced by my target customers?”
Thirdly, you should examine how much Esteem your brand enjoys. “Does my brand have standing in the market place? How much respect does it enjoy amongst its target market? Does it command a good reputation?”
Lastly, Knowledge about a brand is accumulated over time. “How well-known is your brand amongst its target market? How much do they know about it? How many people know anything at all about it?”
These key attributes are the core pillars of your brand. You can diagnose the health problems of your own brand by asking yourself the above questions and giving your brand a rating out of ten on each of the four pillars, where one is weak and ten is strong.
You will then be in a great position to start building your brand in the areas where it needs the most attention. You will need to work at reinforcing the weaker pillars so that you end up with a robust and healthy brand, built to withstand any competitive challenge.
Adrian Fuller is an experienced general business and marketing communications consultant who specializes in brand strategy, customer research and business writing. For down-to-earth advice on a variety of marketing topics, visit his website at where you will also find a useful on-line brand health check.