Branding – back on the range in the old west a rancher would take a hot iron and sizzle a unique symbol on the flank of a calf, branding it as his animal. Cattle branding was a basic system so you could tell your steer from the other rancher’s steer. Why do you think rustler would sneak in and change brands? The actual ownership was as valuable as the cow itself. That’s where the idea of a brand originated.
The Power Of A Name
A recognizable name is an identity. It doesn’t matter is it’s Starbucks or Coca-Cola the name stakes out a territory and differentiates from all the rest. When you were born the hospital asked your parents to give you a name before you left for home. You were named or “branded” so they could tell you apart from all the other babies. You became unique.
A brand that does not differentiate from similar brands is really no brand at all. Make the name of the product, service, training program, marketing concept, sandwich… whatever it is – Unique. Unless you want it to be perceived as generic and indistinguishable make the name memorable, appealing and unforgettable.
What’s In A Name?
You want to become a household name, right? To have a successful brand you have to build an instant association with what you are. Originally Coca-Cola was associated with “drink.” Then they added some modifiers like “soft” and “cold.” This rocked for decades until the competition increased and staked their claim to “drink,” “soft” and “cold.” The brand image blurred as Pepsi and Dr Pepper put their images in the consumer’s face.
The Coca-Cola Company didn’t make a new brand story they just changed the association. The new one became “refreshment.” The modifiers created the image that said wherever people live, work and play; Coca-Cola is the first choice for refreshment.
Please Pass The Modifiers
Remember the basic association is only the foundation and not the brand itself. You want to make sure your target audience makes the right connection. Now we get to the good stuff. Again there is good news and bad news. Many of what were once powerful modifiers are now valueless terms. Quality is a great promise that means very little any more. What company would claim they offer rotten quality? Value… what company would proclaim they are a rip-off. Service… aw, you get the idea.
Don’t Spill Them!
But here’s where it’s easy to stumble and spill all those great modifiers. They have to be everywhere, consistently. Think about Volvo. What’s their modifier? Safety. Do you ever remember seeing or hearing any Volvo marketing that didn’t include “safety”? Once you have established the key association for whatever you are offering and the best adjectives or modifiers to make it unique and distinctive then you know what to market. You can’t brand or market the mundane. Decide what business you are in and add that to the brand palette. Make a clear, valuable ultimate value proposition and build on it. It’s your “brand promise.”
Instant Create Your Own Branding Recipe
These are the basic steps to jump-start your thinking. Before slogans, logos and websites distract you decide what you are promising, how you are different and why people should buy from you.
Who Are You? Like the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, who are you and what will the public associate with your brand? Make it a clear identity and an easy association. Then add modifiers to make it unique and distinctive. Adjectives and verbs are your best friends and they help you define a brand promise you can live with and people will buy.
Why Do Business With You? Your brand is a promise of value and benefits. It isn’t about you it’s about your customers. Decide the most compelling reasons why customers should do business with you and highlight them. If you can’t come up with motivating, activating reasons, rethink the whole idea.
Everything Matters Your company’s actions, images, services and execution are all parts of your brand. An employee earning $8.00 per hour who doesn’t “get it” can instantly flush literally millions of dollars of marketing and years of goodwill. Always deliver, every time.
Beware of Brand Lag It doesn’t matter who you think you are, all that matters is what your most important people perceive. Your brand is far more than a logo, marketing and a promise. It’s the sum total of what you deliver to your customers and how much they value and appreciate it. When in doubt, ask. This will save you millions of dollars. Please feel free to send me 10% of the money this saves you.
Always be Different People buy the differences so be different. You really don’t want to look, sound, taste, drive or deliver anything that might be confused with your competitor. Did you ever wonder why Pepsi doesn’t really market its’ hero product as Pepsi Cola anymore? Well, if your main competition has the word “cola” as 50% of their brand name what would you do?