Competitors can't copy a strong brand.

A brand is the big idea that drives your business.

Powerful brands are deliberately crafted. Over time, they become part of a company's DNA. Done right, brands have tangible value. Apple is number one with a brand valuation of $241 billion.

✓ Highly branded companies outperforms the S&P average as a whole by nearly 200%.
✓ A Pitchbook survey revealed 70% of private equity investors believe branding is important for investors and lenders, potential hires, the media, and other stakeholders.
✓ Three-quarters of new customers are won over by the power of a brand. 
✓ Strong brands can charge 2X more than their competitors

What makes a strong brand?

Neurobiology shows that people's brains light up when they encounter strong brands. They do not respond to brands that are fragmented and inconsistent. Coherence (the quality of being a unified whole) means that branding is consistent both conceptually and in execution.

✓ Keep brand style compatible with core message
✓ Create a consistent customer experience
✓ Be consistent in marketing communications
✓ Nurture a company culture that supports the brand
Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman studied how people buy. He found people are unaware of their true purchase motives because they occur on a subconscious, emotional level. The more complex the product, the more people rely on intuition rather than logic to process choices. Branding operates on a subconscious level – which is why it's so powerful.

✓ Know your customer inside and out.
✓ Tap into subconscious motivations.
✓ Provide rational reasons to support emotion-based buying decisions.
Strong brands have something unique to set themselves apart from competitors. In can be fast delivery (Dominos, FedEx), consistency (McDonald's), charitable actions (Tom's, Newman's Own), a lifetime guarantee (Craftsman, Eddie Bauer). A distinctive promise crystallizes the brand's identity.

✓ Have a unique promise that is relevant to your purpose
✓ Your promise should benefit the customer
✓ Your promise should be different from the competition's
Research supports the idea that recall is a main determinant of consumer purchase behavior. To achieve recall, a brand must tie itself to associations that are personally meaningful to its consumers. Personal relevance is the mechanism by which emotions govern memory. Irrelevant, meaningless brands fail to achieve mind share and recall.

✓ Base brand on the buyer's mindset
✓ Tie brand to meaningful associations
✓ Keep associations clear and direct
Brands must have awareness in the marketplace. Even the most passionate brand will fail without market exposure. This means that a brand must engage in marketing, even if that means relying on grassroots word-of-mouth campaigns like Lululemon or a legacy reputation like Rolls-Royce.

✓ Set aside a marketing budget standard for your industry
✓ Identify where potential customers can be found
✓ Create a marketing plan to reach those customers
✓ Do not cut marketing during economic downturns

Here's the secret... strong brands are likeable.

A classic advertising study found that likability is the most important factor in brand success. Likable brands produce 3x more revenue. In the Significant Objects experiment, $128.74 worth of junk sold for $3,612.51 just by adding likable back stories. That's a return of 2800% achieved with the right words..

You can't have a strong brand without research.

Without data, you're just another person with an opinion. Research separates work from guesswork. It's the key to minimizing business risk. And it also is the inspiration for a creative direction. Research covers your best customers, your most dangerous competitors, market trends, and hidden traps.

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