A brand is a promise made to customers, shareholders, employees and stakeholders. It lives in the hearts and minds of our employees, customers, consumers before, during and after any transaction with our products or services. It may be symbolised by a logo but its identity runs much deeper than cosmetic appeal. It is an encapsulation of the spirit at the heart of our purpose, mission and values. Anything less would be like putting lipstick on a gorilla.
Brand behave like people, their visual appeal, presentation and the 'sound of their voice' are the physical or experiential attributes that connect them with the world around them. But look a little deeper and it is the essential personality that makes the brand special and different, relevant and engaging (or not). This distinctive personality is driven by a set of "underlying values" the heart of which can be encapsulated into an "essence" or ‘DNA’.
Do promises matter? In an era of continual communications, information overload and time famine, brands become ever more important to cut through the noise, brands simplify choices, reduce perceived risk and provide deeply-sought emotional benefits.
While the time and resource to make well-considered decisions is shrinking, the level of knowledge and intelligence needed to make those decisions is escalating as is the cost of failure (reputational and financial). So where do we place our trust? Quite simply, in brands that earn it.
In many industries the homogenisation of new technologies, together with ever-shorter development cycles, makes it hard to differentiation products and services solely on specification or price. Time pressure compounds the dilemma for decision-makers and the security of a trusted brand, whose values resonate with their own, has become one of the most vital selection criteria.
"The more complicated the world gets, the more comfortable the familiar will seem and the better it will get for brands"
Well-defined brand values can differentiate your product or service from those of a competitor, particularly those offering comparable functions or performance. You can create a unique competitive advantage, making your brand the preferred choice in your audiences’ minds, by managing it carefully.
If you are not managing your brand, who is?
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS enable the brand to ENGAGE
Only when the ‘Functional Requirements’ have been satisfied, can the promise and delivery of higher values and benefits be added to drive preference and loyalty.
FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS equip the brand to COMPETE
Rational factors like ‘awareness’, ‘relevance’ and ‘need fulfilment’ are essential ‘best practice’ criteria for the category.