It’s simple to limit your marketing to highlighting the advantages of your company. However, if your alleged drawbacks are plain to see, it is wise to bring them up, turn them into positives, and diffuse unfavourable first impressions.
For instance, everyone criticized a chimney sweep company’s overly catchy jingle. Have they altered it? No way! They took the criticism and turned it into amusing radio ads that pointed out how obnoxious their jingle was. It caught people’s attention, made them laugh, and helped them remember the jingle’s message (and the company’s brand) even better.
A generic (or unbranded) product or service is different from a branded one in that the former is chosen solely for rational considerations (e.g., acceptable quality, affordable price), whereas the latter is chosen also for emotional considerations (e.g., makes me feel good, demonstrates my business acumen). Brands can also fetch a greater price than identical but unbranded goods and services because of the additional emotional factors that support brand purchasing. As a result, the majority of businesses and organizations work to develop their brands.
So how can you create a powerful brand by transforming from negative to positive? What steps are involved?
How to Build a Strong Brand From Negative to Positive
Following, we outline the seven essential steps required in creating a powerful brand.
Step 1: Discover/Develop Your Brand Purpose
Remember that brands are purchased for emotional reasons. There are many different options to choose from for any given product or service, and people want to buy brands that align with their beliefs, perceptions and motivations because it feels right to them. Simon Sinek describes it this way: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
Strong, successful brands have a defined purpose; a set of defined values, a philosophy, a guiding principle and/or a mantra that appeals to those who share these. Fundamental questions to ask yourself in the context of building your new brand should include things like:
- Why am I (are we) here?
- How is my brand different?
- Why would/should people care about my brand?
These are vision/mission kinds of questions and transcend detailed features and benefits of your product or service, but they are critical in giving your target audience(s) reason to buy your brand over similar products and/or services.
Step 2: Know Your Competitors
Gaining an understanding of what your competitors are doing and saying in the marketplace is important as you are building your brand, and will continue to stay important over the life of your brand. In order to differentiate yourself effectively from those competitors, you need to know what perceptions they own in the minds of your target audience(s).
An easy and effective way to organize the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ perceptions uses a model of perceptions like this one:
Evaluation of their messaging, reviews/social media comments made by customers as well as primary opinion research among their customers will provide you with a “received view” and indication of what brand strategy each of your competitors is pursuing.
Step 3: Determine Your Primary and Secondary Target Audiences
Branding is inherently about focus and having a differentiated point of view and purpose. Generic or unbranded products and services are, by definition, undifferentiated and compete largely on functional variables like price and availability. Therefore, you must identify your ideal target audience (and the next tier or two out from ideal) based on steps 1 and 2 above. Mindset plays an important role here, because you are looking for people who like and share in the “why” of your brand.
It is helpful to go through the exercise of developing customer profiles, or personas, that bring to life whom you are targeting. Start by identifying demographic variables like age, sex, education and profession and then layer in psycho-social variables like hobbies, motivators, favorite brands, personality traits, life philosophy, etc. Here’s an example of such a profile.
Use your customer personas to guide your brand messaging and marketing efforts going forward.
Step 4: Build Out Your Brand Strategy
To give guidance and structure to your brand, it helps to have a strategic brand platform that articulates your brand’s vision and mission, how you want to differentiate your brand from competitors and the perceptions you want to own in your target audience’s minds. Putting these in writing and having everyone understand and agree is critical to building and maintaining a strong brand. Here is an example of a brand platform:
Step 5: Develop A Compelling Brand Narrative/Story
Storytelling is powerful because it has been the primary method of connecting people with ideas and knowledge since time immemorial. Stories do more than communicate, they build familiarity and trust. They elicit emotion. And, they are surprisingly efficient at conveying complex and abstract ideas. People understand stories easily and remember them better than general or abstracted information.
People retell stories more readily and easily than reciting other learned information. Accordingly, the strongest and most successful brands are good at telling compelling and interesting stories that bestow meaning and relevance upon those brands.
In our experience, using one or more stories to explain the value, purpose and/or exceptionalism of your brand is essential to greater brand success.
In the case of some brands, prospects may or may not remember the description of Six Degrees as a psycho-sensory brand-building agency that applies findings from psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics about how people process information/make decisions and then applies proven sensory techniques to trigger the desired perceptions and emotions in the minds of each specific target audience across all marketing materials.
Step 6: Create a Brand Identity
Once the brand story has been crafted, it’s time to build an identity for your new brand or refresh the identity of your existing brand. This includes name, logo and brand voice. Make sure to share the brand strategy with whoever is designing your new brand identity and develop a creative brief that provides further guidance to the creative development process, including examples you admire as well as creative directions you would find counterproductive if not objectionable. You should expect at least three different directions, first in black and white. Once you have narrowed down your overall design choice, decide further details like color and font.
Read Also: 5 Brand Positioning Models
Developing your brand identity should be an iterative process, but it is important not to get hung up on details. It is unrealistic to expect an “ah-ha, that’s the one” moment when you see brand identity concepts. A brand identity is a starting point, an empty vessel, and the strength and value of the brand will depend on what perceptions and associations you imbue it with over time. Consider how people may have felt about names and identities like Starbucks and Nike BEFORE they were household names imbued with loads of meaning through products, experiences and marketing.
Step 7: Live The Brand
Finally, it’s not enough to develop a new brand identity and expect that it will become great without a whole lot of effort. A brand is akin to reputation: It takes a long time to build up … and it can be damaged in an instant. Accordingly, you are always working on brand equity. The image someone has of your brand is the mental average of their last brand experience or impression and their most extreme one (good or bad).
To be successful, you must “live” the brand. That means you must authentically embody the brand strategy in everything you do. New employees must be trained on the brand. Partners must understand and contribute to the brand image. Interactions with customers must be consistent with the brand’s values, promise and pillars over the short term as well as the long term. Brand building is a life-long activity, because once you stop, you are essentially “milking” the equity from the brand.
Building a brand is a specialized endeavour. More importantly, it is a way of thinking. Consider working with a branding agency if you are unsure of where to begin, how to go, or if you would just like some guidance along the road to ensure you are doing everything you can to develop your brand. They will contribute new ideas, resources, and methods to improve the marketability and reputation of your brand.
What Are The Negative Effects of Branding?
It is a plain fact. Having a poor brand might hurt your business. It could make customers think poorly of your business and have a bad impact on their experience. The representation of your company’s beliefs, integrity, and mission through branding is who you are. The success of your business depends on effective brand management because poor branding can harm your business’s reputation and trustworthiness.
Examples of Bad Branding
- Poorly designed logo.
A logo that is confusing, too complex, or not immediately recognizable can hurt your business.
- Ignoring social media.
It’s not enough to have a social media page. Your followers expect consistent, relevant content. If you use your social media page as nothing more than an electronic billboard, posting only advertisements for your products or other self-serving content, consumers will be turned off.
In addition, if you’re not posting on a regular schedule, you can give the wrong impression. If someone finds your Facebook page and notices that you haven’t posted anything in 2 months, they may view your brand as careless or sloppy, or even worse, they may assume you’re no longer in business.
There are numerous examples of companies using dishonest practices — fabricating tweets for use in advertising or bending the truth in response to a public dispute. Even the most minor misrepresentation can have far-reaching implications if you try to pass it off as the truth.
Ways Bad Branding Can Mean Bad Business
- 1. Bad branding can erode trust.
Much of the trust between a company and the consumer is built at an emotional level. Failure to build a personal connection through meaningful and relevant content can lead to a loss of trust.
- 2. Bad branding can cause your business to be seen as careless.
For example, publishing content with poor grammar or typos can lead to the perception that your company is careless and doesn’t pay attention to detail.
- 3. Bad branding can give consumers the impression that you don’t care about their needs.
Failure to integrate your branding throughout your company can lead to inconsistencies, giving the impression that you don’t care about what your customer needs.
- 4. Bad branding can lead to the perception that your products are of poor quality.
Poor or inconsistent branding — misalignment of a company’s online presence with other marketing materials, for example — can lead to the perception that your products and services are not held to the highest standard of quality.
Your company’s branding permeates every aspect of its operations, from its marketing and logo to its goods and customer service. Your firm may incur a loss of customers and reputational harm if your branding is inconsistent, unclear, or linked to subpar products or poor customer service. Don’t let poor branding affect your company’s bottom line.
What Are The 4 Advantages of Strong Brand?
More than just a logo and tagline define a brand. It’s the guarantee of an experience, one that includes a customer’s interactions with the business as well as its goods and services. However, powerful brands don’t just appear. Building a strong and enduring brand requires time and effort, but it pays off in many ways for the business and serves as the company’s compass in all that it does.
Here are four advantages of having a powerful brand.
1. Increased Brand Recognition
Brand recognition is how recognizable you are – or how well the target audience recalls the brand and identity of the products. Brands with good recognition can be so powerful that they’re known beyond their existing customer base; non-customers recognize the brand as well.
A great example of brand recognition is Starbucks. One of the major coffee chains across the US and the world, even if you don’t drink Starbucks, you’ve likely heard of it and seen the logo.
Whether you visit a Starbucks in your hometown or anywhere else across the country, you can rely on consistent logos, colors, fonts, messaging, and café interiors. You know that your favorite drink will be the same as it is at home.
2. Improved Customer Loyalty
Strong brands have a tremendous impact on customer loyalty. Research has shown that 57% of customers will spend more money on brands they’re loyal to, and they’re more likely to make repeat purchases. This comes from continuously positive emotional experience and satisfaction.
Loyal customers can be fiercely faithful to their preferred brands, often believing them better than their competitors. Some famous examples of this type of connection include Apple vs. Microsoft and Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola.
If customers have strong loyalty, they’re more likely to stick with products from the same company, ultimately leading to more sales. For example, Apple enthusiasts typically have a MAC, iPad, and iPhone, rather than mixing and matching their devices and operating systems.
3. Lower Price Sensitivity
Price sensitivity describes the effect of product cost on the target market’s willingness to purchase. Lower price sensitivity indicates that customers don’t consider price to be a major factor in making a purchasing decision.
As a result, a strong brand gives you the freedom to use premium pricing. Luxury fashion houses like Gucci and Chanel have the ability to charge high prices for their products because of the customers’ emotional connection to the brand, leading to a higher perception of value.
This concept is not just limited to fashion and status symbols, however. Luxury can be communicated in a variety of products, including the candy company Sugarfina. Branded as the “ultimate luxury candy shop for grown-ups,” Sugarfina offers premium artisanal candies with exquisite details that command higher prices.
4. More Referrals
Word of mouth can be a powerful tool for growth. When people favor a brand and believe in its story, they are more likely to make recommendations to friends, family, or even perfect strangers – ultimately leading to free promotion of your brand. Often, these brands offer consistent, quality products that deliver on their claims, such as Zappos.
The online shoe and clothing retailer grew quickly with its vast selection, exceptional customer service, and legendary 365-day return policy. The word spread, and eventually Zappos created a referral program of its own to help customers earn rewards for their recommendations.
Building a great brand takes time, but it’s essential to having tenacity and a competitive advantage in a market that is becoming more saturated. A strong and enduring brand offers practically endless advantages, such as increased consumer loyalty, streamlined product launches, and more customer recommendations.