Sunday, February 5, 2012

8 principles of effective branding

Scott Bedbury, former VP of marketing at Starbucks and head of advertising at Nike outlines in his book "New Brand World" 8 tenants to building more relevant and resonant brands with today's consumers. Those ideas are a summary of his observations and findings, as he helped these two major brands find their core values and lay the foundation for their future growth. I found the 8 tenants very insightful and some of them align with the book "Buying In" by Rob Walker that considers the branding from consumers point of view.

The principles are:

1. Brand awareness is no longer enough.
No longer is having your voice in the market place and showing your logo enough to establish yourself as a great brand. More important today is having relevance and resonance with your consumers. Rob Walker, talks about how brands today are salient, making people aware it exists, but more importantly they are relevant to their target audience. This is often achieved through customization and creating niche products for small groups of followers. Having a differentiated product is important in helping this cause.

2. You have to know you brand before you can grow it
It is important to know your goals and future vision of what you want to become and where you hope to be. What will you do when you reach you initial goal and how can you measure you success. All these questions are going to help align company people on the path for that growth. Getting down to the core substance and essence can help in decision making, on future projects as the goals are clearly laid out. A brand should stand for something rather than nothing. Having a mantra can help align those thoughts. Nike for example, might be though of as "authentic athletic performance, Starbucks would be "Rewarding everyday moments" and Disney can be " Fun family entertainment". Something that helps establish this is getting to know your consumers, what are their perceptions of you brand, how do they feel towards your brand and what are their burning issues.

3. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
It is important of course that once you establish your brand essence and mantra, that all growth efforts and investments support those ideals. Picking the right partnerships and sub-branding efforts will all support the message to the consumer if played right and aid growth.

4. Become more than the product to the consumer.
Being able to transcend a product is important for brand value, it creates evangelists in your loyal consumers and builds social communities. These are much hard to dislodge when times get harder, or competition more aggressive. Using emotional drives and cultural forces as suggested by Maslow's hierarchy of needs, such as fear, joy, accomplishment, security and love are going to build a platform to place your brand on, that goes deeper than pure economic value. When this occurs people have a deeper investment in the brand.

5. Everything Matters
Everything the brand touches is another point at the which a consumer receives your message. Nothing should be overlooked as everything adds to the mix. The good, bad and ugly parts of your operations and dealings will eventually become an image in the consumers mind when they think about your brand. This should all be expected but handled with care and consideration.

6. All brands need good parents
A brand can be considered a child with metaphorical needs and traits. A brand needs protecting, nurturing, and have positive and enduring values. The brand should become a value member of society as a whole being productive, desirable and welcomed everywhere. Failure to look after the brand will like a disobedient child become unruly , mostly misguided and unwelcome. Like a child creativity should be encouraged and conformity should not reduce the willingness to learn. Often having a parental figure such as a brand steward will help in this brand raising exercise, this can be a CEO or a dedicated brand leader.

7. Big doesn't mean bad
As a brand grows it should try and hold onto the values that make small businesses often more approachable. Having a sense of humor, being humble and friendly. This is very much like the previous point that like a child growing a brand should be a positive experience for all.

8. Future brands will be distinguished by relevance, simplicity and humanity
Brands that want our attention and devotion need to show respect back and this is the long term invest that a future brand needs to employ. It needs to be respectful, have a relevance to a persons inner narrative and goals and be considerate of people as human beings. They have a responsibility to help people and not destroy things for the sake of profit and bottom lines. Failure to keep this in mind, may bring short term profits but will ultimately lead to a disloyal consumer.

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