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 so powerfully that prospective customers covet being a part of it.
In order to achieve this, you do have a brand identity, for sure. However, the 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 you.
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. 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 the late Steve Jobs dressed.
Companies often mistakenly position themselves on a “table stake,” what you need to even play in the game (or your category). If, let’s say, you are about service, it will not be a switching trigger if you need to have good service to be in your business in the first place. The competition is saying the same thing and, from the perspective of your target audience, a claim of “good service” is not a reason to choose. It’s like saying all bottled water quenches thirst.
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? 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. It 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 it on whatever you must have to even exist in your category ("table stakes") or stand it alone from all the other operations of the company. They are doing themselves great harm by using that approach. 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 it to move the needle through reflecting the most meaningful identification of customers and with an eye to positioning themselves against the competition. Our clients are true brand strategists.