How To Be A Brand.

Branding creates differentiation. Perceived product differences can be positioned as advantages worth paying more for. Branding also creates strong emotional connections that increase loyalty and make it easier to launch new products.
SKIP THE READING

1. For turnip's sake, do the research.

Good brands are always evidence-based. Research is the only way marketers can double-check their assumptions and verify they are on the right track.

At a minimum, companies need research into their competitors and ideal customers. A brand without research is  storytelling without substance. Review what's included in good branding research.

2. Be valued.

Positioning is a complete statement of your value and target customer.

It's usually crafted as: "X is the only product/service in (category) that delivers (benefits) to (target audience) because (reasons to believe)."

Positioning  is based on methodical market research and strategy. 

But value may not be obvious. Apple guessed that people would value beauty in technology long before consumers asked for it.

3. Be unique. 

The term "unique selling proposition (USP)" describes the unique benefit promised by a product or service. For example, a headache medicine can promise "fast relief."

When there is no difference between products, skillful branding  creates a perceived one. For example, "pours when it rains" for a salt brand.

A USP is part of a brand's positioning. Sometimes it is used as a slogan, but not always. Coca-Cola's USP is it's the world's most popular soft drink, but its slogan is "The Real Thing." Its positioning is the soft drink for spreading happiness to everyone.

4. Know your industry.

All brands deal with changing market forces. 

The pro-health movement blames sugary sodas and snacks for America's obesity epidemic. Soft drink consumption in the U.S. is declining while demand for flavored waters and juices is rising.

Coca-Cola has fought back by introducing smaller cans at a higher price and continuing its history of aggressive product development and acquisition. 

Coca-Cola's brand strength is legendary, allowing the company to increase prices without losing share in its soft drinks.
– The Motley Fool, February 2019

5. Know your competitors.

The brand landscape is always changing. The food industry is shifting to clean, ethical eating. 

La Croix has led skyrocketing demand for flavored waters.

Craft sodas are providing quality alternatives to traditional soft drinks. In 2016, demand for sugary sodas fell almost 1% but craft soda sales grew 5%. 

Craft sodas appeal to millennials, who want to be identified with new brands. Craft sodas are expensive but have less sugar and interesting flavors like lavender.

To compete, Coca-Cola acquired craft brands  Hansen's and Blue Sky with its purchase of the Monster Beverage line.

6. Yipee ka-yay. Put the puzzle together.

Once you have all the research on the table, it's time to get creative. 

Pour yourself a shot of bourbon and roll up your sleeves.

You want to nail your brand promise, your brand message, your brand voice and your brand visual identity. You need a creative concept that grabs mindshare but  also accommodates change. And it needs to work across platforms.

There's no sure-fire science. Just gut-level intuition born of experience.

7. Finally, document it.

Your brand identity includes your brand voice (writing style) and visual identity (logo, fonts, colors, icons). Your brand identity communicates your brand personality.

Brand guidelines  document the creative elements of a brand for content writers, designers and web developers, and brand managers. This ensures brand consistency.

Brand voice is presented in a chart with descriptive adjectives, examples, do's and don'ts, and how attributes relate to the brand's mission and values. Visual identity requires more elaborate documentation of how the logo, colors, and other elements should be used under every scenario.

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