There are a handful of elements that great brands have in common. Read our guide for insight on how to stand out from the crowd and build a brand that lasts the test of time
1. Your core
Know thyself in the most granular way. Take time to understand where you’ve come from, and how you’d like to be viewed in terms of positioning. It isn’t enough to have a great product, an attractive aesthetic and a good marketing team.
What you’re after is a deep understanding of what you stand for as a company, and the ability to communicate your ethos with precision. The strongest brands are one-offs, usually founder-led, unplanned and have a disjointed trajectory. It all comes down to having a fresh vision and desire to improve the status quo.
Louis Vuitton began life through the inventions of Louis Vuitton, who made functional, expertly-crafted luggage. What is it that you’ve invented, can talk about and amplify? How is it unique and what’s the essence of your company’s spirit?
It all begins with a dream of something better, something excellent and something that’s going places.
Heritage is an obvious starting point, should you have it, but it comes in many guises. For example being authentic or rooted in a place, time or mood. The more you distil your brand essence, the more powerful your brand will be. What 3 things are you and what 3 things does your company excel at?
You may need help from creatives who can stand back and see things you can’t. A big-picture idea that speaks to the heart of your core can be all you need to get from good to great.
2. Make it punchy
What can you add that’s fresh? We do not mean you have to reinvent the wheel (though that’s one way to go) instead, we’re talking about what angle is incisive, prescient and rock-solid about what you’re doing? What can you get so confident about that this infuses both your product development and marketing? Who do you want to appeal to the most?
Great brands tend not to want to please everyone. They have a simple mission and message: wear us, use us, covet us, and in doing so be empowered and uplifted. If you have something truly excellent, and a succinct message, your audience will flock to you.
Keep everything about your brand true, clean and powerful. The energy that comes from being centred will speak volumes. If you use humour as part of your brand essence, go for it, play. If your brand’s more homely and dreamy, create that vibe.
Be as punchy as you can with what you have and what you are, so the customer can easily relate to your brand and appreciate it. Do you need help deciding which way to turn? It can pay to review where you are now and bring in a fresh perspective.
3. Take time
Time is the most important factor in building an iconic brand. You need to set out with a sustainable venture, and then be prepared to hammer away at it for decades to come. Your passion has to be real and you need to have everything it takes to excel on your path. Time gives you the luxury of honing and becoming better, of building, expanding, and improving your offering. In terms of brand, this means a dedication to your core, your “why” and being consistent over the long haul.
Choosing a location in which to base yourself, or a market to sell to, is also part of it. Are you growing locally, by word of mouth? (many of the greatest brands have), or by using mass media? Try to build and iterate slowly and you may well end up going further in the long run. Understand what your audience craves and/or set a new bar for what they didn’t know they wanted.
4. Your logo
Logos, symbols, typefaces, colour palettes and visual identities are a huge component of any iconic brand. As soon as you’re able, bring in an expert designer to craft your logo and provide creative direction. It’s key that you show a personality, and that your logo is instantly recognisable and powerful.
Not all companies are design-led, but those that are, or began life due to great industrial design such as Apple, stand out a mile. Design when paired with an exemplary offering is a match made in heaven.
How can you tweak or revolutionise your brand identity and use visual communication to let the world see all that you are? We’re inherently visual creatures and visuals create emotion. Emotion drives our purchasing decisions, so visual appeal is fundamental to great brands.
Opt for colour schemes and aesthetics that create the mood you’d like your customer to feel, and keep this as consistent as possible. Great brands are able to project a calm, consistent and stable image, one that’s positive and uplifting.
It’s fun to get creative with what you have and make the best of your brand through logos, taglines and other brand elements. Never underestimate the power of a mark and visual image.
5. A singular vision
Coco Chanel did not follow the crowd. Steve Jobs did not “think similar”. It takes a singular vision to create a real brand. So don’t be tempted to copy another company’s brand or offering, because you’ll dilute what made the original what it is. The same goes for comparing your company to its peers and competitors. Or being swayed by what they are doing and how they are communicating. These are distractions and ones that take you away from your core.
We’ve all come across companies that are overly interested, and driven by, another company’s success or story and, overtly or covertly, copy it. This won’t take you where you want to be. Customers respond to authenticity, and doubling down on what you are is the way to go.
Keep your eye on the prize and take your company and brand on the road less travelled. Be a pioneer in all you do and continue to highlight your strengths, character, mission and image. Think in terms of improving your customer’s experience and speaking directly to your customers and your customers, only.
Your brand is your most valuable asset.
First published on lifestylecopywriters.com