The branding and brand strategy explained
One day, not too long ago, the employees of a large company returned from their lunch break and were greeted with a sign on the front door. The sign was from the MD, and it said: “we regret to announce that, yesterday, one of the people who have been hindering our growth and even yours in this company passed away. Please join in the lying in state, at the boardroom.”
They started getting sad but curious about whom this person might be. Well, they thought, at least he or she is no longer here. So, one by one the employees got closer to the coffin at the boardroom.
And when they looked inside it, they suddenly became speechless! There was a mirror inside the coffin:
In the words of the Niccolò Machiavelli, “the greatest enemy will hide in the place you will never look at.” My real “enemy” is called the “inner me.” I believe “there is only one person who is capable of setting limits to your growth: It’s you.” But who really are you? I mean, what is your brand?
There is a lot of definition of what a brand is. But in summary, your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
Every interaction is like an entry into a room. Once you walk into that room with a product or just yourself (whether it’s a business boardroom or someone’s life), you would be greeted with 3 moments of truth:
- What people feel when they first see you
- What you portray (as they interact with you/your business or proposition)
- What you will be remembered for (after you leave).
Brand, Brands, Branding and Brand Strategy is about how to influence those 3 Moments of Truth. The truth is that anything can be a brand. There’s a big difference between who you think you are and who you really are in the minds of people. Create your own image. Own and radiate a world that people respect and would naturally want to be a part of. Also, anybody can build a brand. It starts from finding you, creating and owning a product or value proposition and being the best at it. And then building from it something sticky (unique, identifiable, consistent) on being the best at that thing you are known for, so well, that they will talk about it when you’re not in the room.
A brand in a deeper definition is an illustration of a covenant. It’s a graphical representation of the purpose of that product. Like a cross is a graphical representation of Christianity and the half moon and star suggests Islam. In line with this, I have a covenant with my creator to be at my best and to always get better at it still. And my brand is just a graphical representation of that covenant.
There’s a central concept in “packaging and branding” for me: It states that the only thing more important than what you are selling is what the buyer believe he is buying -BE BRANDED”
Put simply, a brand is the difference between a bottle of sugared, flavoured carbonated water and a bottle of Coca-Cola, a car and a Benz, a phone and an iphone. It is the sum of the functional and intangible, that a consumer attributes to product or service. It is one of the most powerful things to build in life or business. When Procter & Gamble acquired Gillette in early 2005, only $6b of the $57b purchase price was for its tangible assets, the vast majority of the value being in its brands and relationship. On average, 86% of the market value is intangible, which is the real measure of the worth of new ideas, the right market choices and the brands to ensure future success in them. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. A unique and alluring identity and consistency is the key here. Keep doing what you do till you don’t have to introduce yourself.
Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind. A lot of people create products but don’t create strategies to make them stick in the mind. Every brand is a product, but not every product is a brand. In today’s world of “packaging”, please note, before “over packaging” yourself, ensure there’s tremendous value behind it. The truth is, some people will see through, branding isn’t value, it just enhances the value. Build a brand, package whatever you sell so well that it feels world class. Blow the mind of your customers. Don’t put a good product in a bad container (you must have heard me say that “you should never put champagne in a Zobo bottle” else they’d under prize and undervalue it. So, below is a few steps I think is relevant to help build a brand.
✔Decide what you’re going to brand.
✔Do your research to find what ways you can be unique and in alignment to your truest self (brand essence)
✔Position your product or service.
✔Write your brand definitions. Orchestrate your brand strategy.
✔Develop your brand materials accordingly, (logo, colour, taglines, flyers, website, social media pages, souvenirs)
✔Launch your brand.
✔Manage, leverage, and protect your brand.
✔Realign your brand to keep it current.
Beyond brand strategy, it has been well communicated and placed side by side to what it complements. A good way to do this is through brand promises and brand associations. Take for example, for a car, a V8 engine should naturally be noisy, especially when it’s on top speed, like the Range Rover HSE, SUVs and Sports Cars. A Rolls Royce Phantom is a V8 but its brand promise says “at 120KM per hour, the only thing you’ll hear will be the sound of your Rolex (remember, original Rolex Wrist Watches don’t tick), now that’s brand excellence and the two mentions is a complementary Brand Associations, synonymous with luxury. A good brand can be easily identified as it draws attention. To begin this journey is to create a perception. A brand that captures your eyes gains notice. A brand that captures your mind gains attention. A brand that captures your heart gains commitment and only a few do this.
To get to a point where you gain attention, learn to master the arts of aesthetics, stories and impressions. Everything is judged by its appearance and feel; what cannot be felt and unseen counts for nothing. The fight of a great brand is to not allow self to go into oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet. From aesthetics to feel, make yourself and brand a magnet for attention by appearing larger, more colorful, and more mysterious, than the bland and timid competitor. Branding isn’t just about logos, colours and slogans; those are just components for its more about strategy. While branding is the process of creating a brand, brand strategy is a plan for the systematic development of a brand to enable it to meet its agreed objectives. The strategy should be rooted in the brand’s vision and driven by the principles of differentiation and sustained consumer appeal.
Differentiation is the most important concept in the creation of powerful brands. Essentially, brands can be differentiated in terms of product and/or service. While branding requires differentiation and innovation, still it has to find a balance. Branding requires innovations. This may involve a re-creation of self. This could be as a rebranding of some sort and a means of forging ahead an evolving identity as it is important that your entity commands attention and never bores the audience. Ignore innovation and your competitors will quickly pass you by. But also, too much innovation will confuse your customers, and drain your resources. There needs to be a balance between innovation and consistency in branding. To stay true to the brand, use open innovation, and see the power of involving customers in the process of innovating.