Building your brand successfully

Content provided by a guest contributor.

If one were to ask 10 marketing directors what the criteria for a successful brand are, you would get 10 completely different answers. Whichever way you look at it, brands today are the most demonstrably powerful and sustainable wealth creators in the world.

There is no getting away from the fact that, in an increasingly blurred and virtual future, just about everyone and everything is capable of becoming a brand, and profiting from becoming a brand.

However, to become a successful brand one has to take it seriously.

A very important brand guru described the brand as, “The sum total of experiences that a consumer has with the brand.” This means that a brand is more than a logo and a corporate identity. The price, where it is found, how it is packaged, who owns it, who buys it, who sells it, it’s advertising and every other interaction that you have with the brand shapes your opinion of it.

So, before you embark on a brand-centric exercise here are some questions you should ask yourself:

Is it a brand, or is it a product or a service?

Many people think that because a product or a service has a name and a logo it is a brand. This is not strictly true. If it really is a brand, then it adds consistent value, and people choose it over others, as often as they can.

Is your brand sustainable in the long term?

Many top companies will tell you that a brand that cannot make the top two in its category is a brand under threat. This may be so, or it may be that the brander wishes to be a challenger brand, which allows it to behave in a more irreverent fashion. Virgin began as a challenger brand, and so did Avis.

Brands cost money to develop and maintain. Am I spending enough on mine?

Even major brands require financial investment. McDonald’s admitted that they had underinvested between 2000 and 2003, and this opens the door for competition. It may be argued that McDonald’s are still feeling the effects of this underinvestment.

Brand ambassadors wear their brands on their sleeves. Who are my brand ambassadors?

This includes the people who own the brand including the chairman and all the way down, the receptionist, all the way up. A disgruntled employee can wreak havoc on a brand’s reputation.

Some companies only play lip service to brands and branding. Will this have consequences?

In many companies the brands are the main assets. In the 100 Best Global Brands rankings the research house estimated that around 36 percent of the total market capitalization comprised brand value. Maintaining a brand and its standard has to be taken seriously, or it will loose value.

Some company’s own brands and some companies are brands. So what?

Companies may be brands in their own right, and they may own a number of diverse brands. Witness Bidvest. The observation is that each of the Bidvest brands has a brand custodian, but who is the custodian of the Bidvest brand? Is there a difference between the way different brands should behave? Some people believe that Company Brands have more social responsibility.

Are brands becoming more or less valuable?

The long story short is that if brands have value, you should be able to measure this value? Are you measuring the value of your brand?

If the brand value has decreased do you know why?

Measuring Return on Marketing Investment means that marketing becomes less of a soft and fuzzy issue, and much more tangible. Marketing issues are less soft than people realize, and financial issues less hard.

Are marketing and brand management discussed in the boardroom?

If not, then why not? Marketers may be criticized by fellow executives for not understanding financial fundamentals – a reason boardrooms are often without a marketer. Does this make sense, if brands have value?

Are you spending your branding budget wisely?

Consistency, focus, relevance and alignment of the total brand experience will immediately grow the equity. So apart from the traditional marketing mix, we must “co-ordinate” all the touch points of the brand, and for many companies that includes investor relations and staff relations.

Brands make a promise, and have a set of values and people have emotional relationships with them. The brand becomes like a partner, a lover or a best friend and being inconsistent heightens the risk of relationship fracture and ultimately dissociation.


The content in this article was provided by Wisdom Keys Group – a Business Marketing Consultancy that provided the entire spectrum of marketing services: above-the-line, below-the-line, and through-the-line.

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