Brand has become an unpleasant word in recent years and it’s no wonder why. It is largely misunderstood - often confused with corporate identity or thought to represent what the company stands for or is considered to be a stand-alone strategy.
Our clients know better.
Brand is about who your customers are when they use your brand. Its intention is for your company to be so meaningful to target audiences and positioned against the competition that prospective customers covet being a part of it.
In order to achieve this, you do have a brand identity, for sure. However, the brand strategy behind the identity must affect everything you do. In order to be successful a brand must remain a reflection of who your target audiences are when they use your brand.
Brand Strategy and Positioning
Brand strategy should drive all your marketing, providing the drop in the lake from which all the ripples of advertising, websites, public relations and even speaking engagements appear.
It’s more than even that. It’s about how your employees act and live the brand strategy. It is to be so embedded into their duties that they think about their day-to-day working life as brand ambassadors.
At Stealing Share, we often talk about Apple as being one of the best true brands in the world, for good reason. Think about how consistently and powerfully Apple stays on message with its advertising, its look, its packaging, its service and even the way CEO Steve Jobs dressed.
Companies often mistakenly position a brand on a “table stake,” what you need to even play in the game (or your category). If, let’s say, your brand is about service, it will not be a switching trigger if you need to have good service to be in your business. The competition is saying the same thing and, from the perspective of your target audiences, a claim of “good service” is not a reason to choose. It’s like saying all bottled water quenches thirst.
Common Brand Mistakes
The most common mistake, however, is that companies believe brand is about the company itself, what it stands for and promises to deliver.
Brand is about the customer. How else will they be able to see themselves in the brand and covet being a part of it if it doesn’t say something about them when they use the brand? It’s more powerful to say, for example, that your customers are innovators rather than saying “you,” the company, is the innovator.
Consider Harley-Davidson. Its brand is not about the bike and its horsepower and features, the ability to go fast or anything else about the product itself. The Harley-Davidson brand is about the people who ride them: Weekend rebels who yearn to be a bit of a rascal – even if they are civilized at home.
The companies that misunderstand brand – consider it a reflection of the company itself, build their brand on what you have to have to even exist in your category ("table stakes") or stand it alone from all the other operations of the company - are doing brand a great disservice. In fact, using brand in this way is what makes so many marketers afraid of it in the first place.
The clients who come to Stealing Share understand what brand really is and what it is intended to do. They look for brands to “move the needle” through reflecting the most meaningful identification of the customer and with an eye to position their brand against the competition. Our clients are true brand strategists.