What does “Branding” Mean?
Before we can get into talking about what makes a great brand, it’s crucial to understand what branding is in the first place. According to the American Marketing Association, “A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."
It is common to think that a brand is simply just a logo, but that is only one piece to the puzzle. A brand is simply how an audience perceives you. Everything from your logo, mission/vision, website, product, social media presence, customer interaction, and the people and companies you associate with, can all play a part in your brand. An easy way to think about it, is to view yourself as a brand. Look at yourself from another person’s perspective. Your brand is everything they see and learn about you. This may include your name, how you dress, how you speak, how you act, who you interact with, what topics you talk about, what you’re passionate about, who you spend time with, or how you carry yourself.
It is important to create and sculpt a brand you feel proud of, resonate with, and are passionate about. After all, your brand is like your identity. Who do you want to be, and be portrayed as? A great brand doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes strategic thinking and planning, extensive research, good communication and maybe even some soul searching.
5 Characteristics of Great Brands
“A great brand makes people feel good about themselves.”
When you think of popular icons such as Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, or Oprah Winfrey, they all are strongly passionate about what they do, and that has helped drive their success and push them to work hard and continually deliver greatness. By doing so, they’ve accumulated a loyal following and fan base, for not only themselves, but for their “product” and brand.
Let’s think about it, when you ask someone what they are passionate about, their face lights up and their energy and excitement grows contagious. Same goes for a company. When your business is based on passion, the way you speak about your product or service will sound genuine and enthusiastic, because your energy and love for what you do will pour onto consumers, creating a mutual feeling of love and support for the same product/ and or service. After all, who’s going to be more passionate about what you offer, than yourself?
The best brands in the word have a uniqueness and originality all their own. Health food enthusiasts out there love the fruit and nut bars by KIND LLC. They made their stake in the market by creating clear packaging to expose their whole, natural ingredients that you can see and pronounce. Apple made their way into the market by creating innovative products, with a minimalistic, aesthetic appeal. Another unique brand is Subway. Even with all the other sandwich shops out there, we all know Subway is famous for their quick fresh sandwiches.
Creating a unique brand doesn’t demand a revolutionary idea or concept. It just takes one special thing that separates you from the competition. Create something that has value, and makes people feel like they are getting more for what they expected. And if positioned right, you’ll have a convincing argument that will convince people that they need it, or got to have it. As long as it is on track with your passion and overall goals and mission, it will only heighten your appeal, and separate you from the competition.
Whether how you post about your brand on social media, speak with your customers, or write about your company on your website, being honest and sincere is one of the most important steps you can take to achieve a great brand. Your clients or customers will be able to tell if your company cares more about making profit, than truly wanting to help them or educate them with what you have to offer. People value transparency and honesty, whether it be through personal relationships, or starting a new relationship with a brand. The more they learn about your company, will either make or break the relationship. So don’t be afraid to be human and let your true colors show.
A key ingredient to a great brand is having audience awareness. A great brand is aware of the demographics of their target audience. According to Simplicable, “A target audience is a group identified as the focus for communications, media, entertainment, information or advertising.” A great brand knows who their main audience is, and they know how to reach them best.
You most likely have a specific audience in mind you’re pursuing. Some examples of target audiences could include particular age demographics, location, subculture, gender, personality, lifestyle, and the list goes on. Once your audience is established, you can begin to focus on what forms of media you’ll use to promote your message and brand. A particular demographic may spend a lot of their time on social media. From there, you could examine which social media platforms would work best for your company. So, whether it be advertising in a particular hobby magazine, online, or on billboards in a certain city, the key is getting your brand out there, so it’s visible to the right audience.
Once you’ve captured your audience, branding is all about consistency. Whether it be with the general look and feel of your brand (brand standards), the quality of the product and/or service, or customer interaction. A great example of this is to think about your favorite restaurant. If the quality of the food started going downhill, or the excellent customer service declined, the restaurant would lose your trust and brand loyalty, and you’d take your business elsewhere (maybe even to their competition!) So, to mitigate any hiccups along the way, it’s advised to develop consistent brand standards early on. By doing this, you’ll also give your audience a sense of familiarity and predictability that they’ve grown to know and love.
Your Great Brand
Go get out there!
Now that we you familiar with the 5 characteristics of a great brand, you can now too be one of those great brands! Whether you’re in the process of starting up your company and trying to figure out what kind of brand you want to be, or trying to figure out a re-branding strategy, or if you’re simply just be wondering if you’re on the right track, keeping these characteristics in mind will help build a solid brand, and keep you on track through this exciting journey.
Remember to be patient, and allow your brand time to grow and evolve. Like I mentioned above, a great brand doesn’t just happen overnight. Give yourself time to really think about what is fundamentally at the core of your brand and/or idea. What do hope to achieve with your brand, long term, and short term? Take it slow, and set timelines for goals that you wish to accomplish. Surround yourself with people that are supportive of your brand and/or idea, whether it be friends, family, or a professional that can help you reach that next step. Just relax, you have the power to achieve YOUR great brand!