Creating a Brand That Works

Branding is one of those buzz words that get tossed about on business and marketing blogs fairly often. The concept of branding should be nothing new. It is the act of creating a brand that works and a lasting impression in the minds of consumers that will differentiate your business from the competition. The tools used to create powerful brands are familiar too. They include logos, trademarks, catchphrases, and company mission statements; all designed to help influence your customer’s perception of your business.

It is easy to tell when a brand is on point. These become iconic logos and phrases that seep into pop culture and become part of the everyday lexicon. The most successful brands also become very valuable as noted by this Forbes article. Of course, the opposite is true as well. When a company stumbles onto a branding disaster, it often becomes a very costly mistake, in time and money. An excellent example of a branding fail happened in 2010 when Gap tried to redo its iconic logo and replace it with a new, lackluster alternative.

It is easy to see how branding can affect these massive, consumer giants. But what about your average small business? Is branding nearly as important for them? One could argue that all of these brand behemoths started off small. Perhaps without such a commitment to their branding, they may not have evolved into the giants that they became. One thing is for sure, many of the most successful brands follow the same core guidelines in their branding. These are lessons that any business, regardless of size, can apply for branding success. Let’s take a look at what is needed to create a lasting and iconic brand with real examples.

  1. Take the time to understand your core products or services truly and develop a brand identity around them. Branding can be great fun when you are creating a brand around something like cupcakes or puppies. It can be much more difficult when building a brand around a specialty product or a unique service. It is all the more important to have a firm understanding of your company and create a brand that will help tell your story when your product is challenging. One such company, Sunnen, sells a piece of machinery called a honing machine. This is a specialty product used by manufacturers but it’s not on the radar of the average consumer. As such, Sunnen had to create a brand that speaks to a select few but does it well. The brand highlights that Sunnen only does one thing, but they do it better than anyone else. Their catch phrase “Above and Beyond Honing” speaks to their core values not only of building honing machinery, but also offering service and equipment for any and all honing machines. This has helped Sunnen maintain their place at the top of the honing industry for close to 100 years.
  2. Use appealing design and compelling copy to speak to the core desires of your customers. Everything about Whole Foods Market screams healthy, fresh and organic. From its clean and green logo to its web presence, chalk full of enticing pictures of fruits and veggies. The Whole Foods brand speaks to its very discerning customer who wants organic options and clean food. Their use of recipes, lifestyle tips, and customer engagement help to create a digital gathering place that mirrors their stores.In creating such a dynamic brand Whole Foods has built a loyal following of shoppers, who seek the store out. This has allowed Whole Foods to succeed even as other grocery store chains try to move into the organic food marketplace. For their competition, organic food options seem like an afterthought, whereas Whole Foods has made it a core value. This natural value has led to some very green profit margins for the brand.screenshot-www.wholefoodsmarket.com 2016-07-07 13-04-00
  3. Be consistent with your brand across the board. The specialty pet products company, Barkbox, (link here) has created its own niche in the booming subscription box market. The company provides a monthly box of treats and toys to man’s best friend with a price tag ranging between roughly (or ruff-ley, pun intended) $20 and $30 per month.The brand shines with its clean crisp logo and its fun, funky tone. It is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously and likes to have fun with its customers. Barkbox also shines when it comes to its absolute undying love of dogs, which it highlights across all of its digital platforms. From Facebook to Instagram and all over its website, the brand identity is absolutely crazy for our canine companions. It is also absolutely consistent in its message everywhere you look. There is no doubt what Barkbox stands for and its consistent message is clear, come join their pack!screenshot-www.facebook.com 2016-07-07 13-03-19
  4. Deliver value! At the end of the day, branding is only as good as the company behind it. As the old PR cliché states; you can’t perfume a skunk so don’t waste your time trying. If your products and services are not at the top of the game no amount of polish or branding will make your company a success. But, if you are looking for an edge to highlight superior services or quality products taking a good hard look at the brand you are conveying can help be the push that takes your company from good to great.

So, if you are ready to take your company to the next level is branding the next step on your journey? Can you use a smart brand to differentiate your company in the market? What do you think of these guidelines for creating a successful brand? We would love to hear your stories. Share them in the comments below. Perhaps we can feature your branding success in a future article.