Every company must have a brand – a foundation to build upon, an identity for consumers to relate to, a blueprint to guide your actions and growth. Leighton’s marketing and advertising strategy for each client revolves around their brand; creating, strengthening or supporting the brand. Leighton Interactive understands brands. We know that building great brands is all about listening, seeing and grasping the culture of the organization and distilling that down to a core set of values that make it a community. Through our hands-on experience we have learned what makes brands successful and have determined essential tips for building a better brand.
1. Know Who You Are.
The first vital step toward building a better brand is defining who you are and what you offer. A promise, positioning line and identity cannot be built if there is nothing to support. What are you going to provide to your target market? What do you believe in and support as a company? What does success mean to you and how do you reach it? All of these questions should support your answer to this question: What do you want your customers to think and feel when they think of you?
Your company, everyone from the CEO to the part-time intern, needs to be able to express who you are. This creates a community, built around a belief system. Only when you have a clear understanding of who you are can you present it to your audience and attract those who have the same beliefs as you and your brand. Interest, engagement and relationship development with your audience will expand your community, forming a sense of belonging for all those involved.
Defining who you aren't also adds clarity and validates who you are. There is great power in knowing who you are not. It allows you to foster a tighter-knit community and sense of belonging by reducing interest and eliminating benefits intended for those who do not align with who you are.
2. Be Authentic.
Real is always better than artificial. On Valentine’s Day you’d rather have real flowers than fake, right? Wouldn’t you rather feel the soft, cool summertime grass between your toes instead of artificial turf? Consumers would rather have the real you, too.
Create a brand that is honest, real and original. Your brand declares who you are as a business, what you offer, how you stand apart from the competition and most importantly, who your customers think you are. All business actions need to support your brand. If they don’t, you and your brand will appear insincere which will result in a loss of customer loyalty and support. Being authentic involves creating a sense of belonging, maintaining a passionate point of view, serving a larger purpose and doing what you said you were going to do. Being original and focusing on what differentiates you from your competition will allow you to stand out and strengthen your brand.
3. Provide Value.
Brands are equivalent to beliefs. Commonalities among beliefs produce new levels of commitment, trust, relevance and opportunity. These qualities encourage belonging and reinforce community. Everyone wants to belong, so if your brand can offer a sense belonging to your audience, you will be invaluable.
This value has to extend through your products or services, too. Create motivation for your customers to believe you and buy from you. Does what you offer make their life easier, improve their efficiency or eliminate stress? Are you helpful, educational or inspirational? No matter what it is, clearly conveying your value proposition will incline consumers to indulge in your offering and join your community.
4. Tell Everyone.
Brands are characterized by emotional connection, thoughts and opinions customers have or feel when they see and interact with your brand. However, if consumers never see or interact with your brand, there can’t be any emotional response or engagement. You need to tell everyone about your brand. Lead with it in all marketing and advertising activities. Keep it at the forefront of all business transactions. Take it beyond the business and incorporate into the daily lives of everyone involved with it.
And once you have your loyal brand ambassadors, ask them to share their thoughts, emotions, experiences, etc. with their friends. In the digital age it is very easy for consumers to share what they love (and what they hate) with friends, family and acquaintances. Your brand should build off what your brand ambassadors and customers are saying. Whatever is making your brand followers and believers stick around will engage new believers and encourage increased participation in your community.
5. Keep Your Promise.
Brands are just like friends; you trust them, count on them to follow-through and expect them to stay true to their word. Your brand promise should be verbally communicated internally within your company and used to guide all actions taken to perform business. Your actions and performance as a company should make your customers feel your brand promise. Actions speak louder than words.
Whatever you are promising, you must make sure to keep it. Consumers can sense insincerity and inauthenticity which can threaten your community and hinder the sense of belonging your brand instills.
Building a Better Brand
Are you coffee or are you Starbucks®? Are you an internet search engine or are you Google®? Do you drive a car, or do you drive a Chevrolet®? Do consumers buy shoes, or do they buy Nikes?
Starbucks, Google, Chevrolet, and Nike® have been built around value and have grown to become some of the most recognized and respected brands. They have built a brand that people believe in and want to be a part of. These examples prove the power of brands, revealing the purpose of building a better brand. The role these brands play in the lives of consumers has had such a strong impact, created an intense emotional connection and sense of belonging that their names have been adopted into daily vocabulary.
A deep love of art and design drives me as I navigate the ever-changing waters of marketing. I am constantly looking for new and better ways to give the inbound marketing methodology the beautiful face it deserves. As the Art Director, I ensure that all of the design work we produce is top notch and designed with a purpose. When I’m not trying to solve creative problems, my life revolves around my family and friends, my passion for music, and my addiction to stories.