1. Brands are bigger than you.
A brand holds far more equity than the actual physical aspects of any business. The best way to articulate this is to imagine this scenario – Coca-Cola lost all of its product related assets in a disaster, the company would likely survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, they’d go out of business. Because it’s not the product that ties us to the brand, it’s all the associations we have; images, values, messages, feelings.
2. Brands are not limited to products.
If we’re saying that a brand is a set of associations, which we have, then it stands to reason that anything can become a brand, from services to cities, or people to publications. Branding has no limits.
3. In fact think of your brand as a person.
Living and breathing organisms with a pulse. Just as you chose your friends based on a shared set of values, common interests or outlook, you choose your brands with a similar criteria.
4. Brands don’t sell, they tell stories.
Just as a stranger wouldn’t sit there and tell you all their saleable attributes the first time you met, neither should your brand. Just like a new acquaintance you get to know, understand and like through the stories they tell, you form an opinion of them over time based on your interactions with them.
5. You don’t fully control your brand.
In the age of social, brands and customers now have equal say in the shaping and developing of your brand, meaning brands are co-created. This doesn’t have to be scary – accept it and use it to your advantage.
6. Identify your WOW!
Quite often businesses mistake the core requirements of their product or service as differentiation… for example, 24 hour customer service, product range, performance, the list goes on. You must find real and meaningful points of distinction between yourself and competitors.
7. Be emotional.
We’re all emotional beings and respond better to messages which we personally relate to. Review all of your marketing collateral and categorise your key messages into functional and emotional. If the functional outweigh the emotional try switching the emphasis.
8. Stand for something.
The best brands stand for something more than just what they do. It might be the reason you started the business, or an attitude or value which has been core to the way you’ve run your business. Inspirational business speaker, Simon Sinek talks about how ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’ – it’s a powerful sentiment.
9. Nurture and invest in your brand.
Investing in your brand, both in monetary terms and in time isn’t something you do once in a blue moon and tick off your to do list. Just like us all, we have to spend time on ourselves to get better, more knowledgeable, to grow and be understood.
10. Never assume you know what your brand says about your business.
Even big brands continually reassess their understanding of their brands based on what their customers perceptions are – by doing so they can help manage and influence the direction. Ignoring or assuming can cause brands to be derailed from the long term vision and direction of the business.
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