When people mention the word "brand" they usually mean a well known, well
defined company. That's why consumers frequently mention names such as Target, Rolex, Apple, BMW and others who have done an excellent job in crafting an image and sticking with it. Buyers know what to expect from these companies, and as long as these companies meet that expectation, they will continue to imprint their brand in the minds of our their audience. It's pretty simple really, if you just keep in mind these two principals.
Principal One: Know your promise.
As amazing as this may seem, most companies don't really know what it is they are
promising their clients. That's why they have weak brands. They may have mission
statements, and can spout off why everyone should use their product or service, but
really it's just a rambling list. Out of fear of losing audience, most companies will try
to compete on price, quality and service... and that's a recipe for disaster. Who
wants to buy a watch from the Discount Overnight Rolex store? If you try to go after
all three areas you end up muddied in the mind of the consumer, who is trying to
put you in a box. And in this case... that's a good thing!
A mental "box" is not that different from a set of mail room boxes. The customers
gets all these incoming "messages" and has to sort them all day. The easier you
make it for them to sort your company, and put it in a category, the easier it will be
for them to recall it when needed. Try this... think of a fast place to eat. How about
the best tasting food? And finally, the place you go if you really want to impress
someone? You can probably think of each of these categories rather quickly. And
chances are, these companies are more than happy to fill that niche without trying
to become much more.
Take a moment and write out in two or three sentences (more if you're feeling
inspired) exactly what your brand promises. It will usually fall under three main
categories... quality, service or price. But there are nuances. Ben & Jerry's image
contains both a quality message and a social message... one of comittment to the
community and environment.
Principal Two: Never violate Principal One.
Once you have firmly established your promise in the minds of consumers, make
sure every move you make conforms to that promise. Coke was fine to come out
with Diet Coke, Cherry Coke and a host of other flavor variations (brand extension)
but they completely missed the mark when they introduced NEW Coke. People
believed in Coke, identified with Coke and it was a part of their history. New Coke
was seen as a betrayal of the brand itself, a vote of no confidence in their core
product. "What's wrong with the original Coke?" was the immediate question that
popped up in most minds. That's why is so important to know what it is, and why it
is, that people buy from you and believe in you.
Know your promise and keep your promise. Pretty simple? Yet it will go a long ways
toward making your company resonate with your customer on a deep and lasting
level. And that's a promise.
Phil's life goal of "creating environments where people thrive" reflects his desire to
assist in personal, professional and business growth. Phil founded and ran a full
service ad agency for over 17 years and now works full time as a business naming
and branding consultant. He has authored numerous articles on naming and
branding as well as addressing groups nationwide. Phil resides with wife Michelle
and four energetic offspring outside Asheville, North Carolina. His web site can be
viewed at http://PureTungsten.com or you may reach him by e-mail at