What is a Brand?
Different things to different people, that’s what a brand is. Or is that happiness? Well, let’s just say it’s both. Each and every brand means something different to its owners, employees and customers, but all brands do share some common traits.
Your personal brand is one thing –it’s what you put out there to the world– but a good brand also must have a persona. Ask yourself this, if your brand were a person, what would he or she look like? How would it act? Your brand’s persona will shine through in everything you do, so it’s important to figure these things out from the start.
Many top brands have struggled with trust throughout the years. Just look at Walmart. Sure, they’ve always delivered on their low-price promise, but they never told us about the corners that were cut in order to do so. If you want to gain trust, transparency is a good policy. Let customers in on as much as you can, and if you make a mistake, own up to it. Over time, your audience will see that your brand displays truly good character.
Innovation is what keeps our society in motion, and it helps propel brands forward too. Innovation doesn’t always come in the form of new products, either. To hep deliver the “wow” factor, Christian Louboutin put on an entire fashion show by hologram. That’s innovation. That’s what keeps people talking.
If you’re not passionate about what you do, you’re in the wrong business. By the same line of thought, brands that aren’t driven by passion tend to lack focus and thus fall short of greatness. Passion is what drives your employees to perform at their best and your customers to get excited about your newest innovations. Leave it behind only if you want a stale, flat brand.
Things don’t always go as planned. You know this from your own life (don’t we all?), and it’s no less true with a brand. Think about Blockbuster Video, a company that will soon be a distant memory. Their business model made sense when the company was born, but it died when other companies found better solutions to the problem they previously solved. Could they have recovered? Maybe. But it would have required more of a shift away from the business model that the company was built on – and although they surely have their reasons – they company wasn’t flexible enough to make such fast moves.
What’s the difference between Target and Walmart? They are both superstores with low prices, but while Walmart competes solely on price, Target has a style of its own. If target were to attempt to be another Walmart, it would fail. Brands need to be distinct in order to survive. People need a reason to shop at one place over another and your distinction will give them that reason.
While building the perfect brand, don’t forget that yours isn’t the only game in town. Pay close attention to your competition or they may just pull the wool out from under you. Not every brand needs to compete on price, but you need to compete on something. Maybe it’s stellar customer service, or maybe it’s constant innovation and forward movement. Know what your brand’s competitive edge is, and ensure you always keep it.
Outlining things like persona and distinction before you start marketing your brand can help you stay focused for the long haul. Brands without a focus can create confusion amongst their audience – and confusion doesn’t usually translate to sales. People should know exactly what to expect from your brand, even if it’s to expect the unexpected. Try not to throw too many curve balls or you’re likely to lose much-needed attention.
If you’re selling scuba gear, you should know everything there is to know about scuba diving. Ever communication should exude subject-related knowledge. The same goes if you’re selling crocheting supplies or RV hitches. It’s not enough to put products out there. In order to be successful, your brand should be the go-to source for all information about your products – and maybe even some information about the industry.
Go back and read number one again. Now, think about it this way. Have you ever met a person who was exactly the same as another? It’s not likely. We all have quirks that make us unique in some way or another. Brands are no different. Instead of copying a successful brand, think about how your brand would look in an ideal world. What sets it apart from every other brand out there? If the answer is nothing, start at number one and work your way through the list again.
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