What a question. It’s a tough one. Funny enough, a lot of us out there are tasked with building a brand, and I would argue that we are spending a lot of our time on the wrong priorities. As a result, brand marketing is getting a bad rap, and we are failing to help our companies stand out in the right ways.
Here at BigDoor, we talk a lot about the importance of building a brand when you are trying to grow customer loyalty, so we thought it would be worth outlining exact what a brand isn’t, what a brand is, and tips to get you there. Let’s jump on in!
A brand isn’t…
All too often, marketers rely on pieces of the brand to “be” the brand. We focus our time on things like the logo, brand colors, byline, etc., when those alone do not make a brand. These features are the tangible execution of a brand. They change over time, and evolve as the brand grows. They may help us represent ourselves in a crowded room, but they are not what differentiates us. Today more than ever before, we need to pay attention to the many pieces of our brand, but pay the bulk of our attention to the sum of those parts and the underlying foundation to these pieces. So what the heck goes into that foundation? We’ve got ya covered.
A brand is…
Rather than focusing on tangible pieces of a brand, it’s critical to look at and invest in the bigger picture. The “bigger picture” includes your company’s perspective in the market, the philosophy you take towards your product, your tone/voice, your company’s story or history, and your actions. These are really what drives your brand. When it comes to building a brand, there are some tangible steps you can take to get down to what really matters. It’s all about identifying what your brand is promising, how you communicate that promise to the market, how you deliver on the promise, and how your promise grows over time. Here’s a bit more on these four steps:
1. Take a stand
What is your company passionate about? This passion lies at the heart of your brand. Here at BigDoor, we believe in reciprocal loyalty, which is the belief that companies should be as loyal to customers as they hope customers are loyal to them. Because we’re so passionate about reciprocal loyalty, we put it at the heart of what drives our brand. You’ll see our tangible assets (like our byline, website, etc.) reflect this in the coming weeks, but we plan on having reciprocal loyalty at the core of everything we push out. It’s a promise we are making to the market: that we will help educate brands on this philosophy, but more importantly, that our products will help them do this for their customers.
It’s crucial to take a stand as a company, and it’s a promise or differentiator that is the foundation for everything you do with your brand. Your team, your products, and your assets should all magnetically tie back to this promise.
2. Shout your promise from the rooftops
Once you know what your brand’s promise is, shout it from the rooftops! Take your resources, budget, and channels, and leverage them for brand story sharing. You can’t simply push out a big promise and hope the market shares it around on your behalf.
A great example of spreading a company philosophy and mission is HubSpot’s Culture Code deck. Company culture videos, like this one from Epipheo (a video studio agency out of Portland), spread a message to the masses in a meaningful way. Communicating your promise in a beautiful, effective way is what enables you to begin to build your tribe of brand advocates. Delight them by providing them with content that is shareable and effectively relays your brand’s promise.
3. Don’t just talk; do
After you’ve promised people something, it’s important to deliver on that promise. Your brand is very much dependent on following through, whether it’s shown through great products, great service, great customer communications, or otherwise. You must make sure that brand promise is consistently delivered so it’s believed; only then will it be shared on your behalf. Brand advocates need to know they are sharing a brand that they can trust, and delivery is where that trust is solidified. No great logo or byline can outweigh the importance of doing what your company promised it would do for its users.
4. Revisit and evolve
A great brand evolves with the company. While that foundational core promise will likely always be there in some iteration, great brands can grow as their markets shift. Revisiting how you are promising something to a market and tweaking as needed is a vital part of building a brand.
Nothing is static when it comes to a great brand. For the brand to last decades, it must resonate with new audiences, yet always come back to that “moment of passion” that resonates with the brand’s promise. It’s a fine balance, but when executed well, it’s nearly impossible to disrupt when it comes to building brand loyalty.
These four combined make a brand when done well. While the tangible executions of this brand may change as the market does or the years pass, your “real brand” is rooted in the promise you make and continue to deliver on over time.
Think of your brand as an intangible selling point that exists in people’s hearts. A great gut check to do to test this is asking yourself, “Does my brand hold water if I don’t show the logo, say the byline, or visit the website/store?” If I said to someone, “What is BigDoor to you?” whatever they come back with tells me if we’ve done our job right. That’s when you know you have a brand that can stand on it’s own.
To stand out in the vast sea of competition, our brands need to truly impress. We can’t just be flashy or have a memorable logo; we need to stand for something that drives people to support us. To put it simply: the more successful your brand, the easier it will be to build loyalty around that brand. A successful brand takes a great deal of intention when building, and hopefully this post pointed out some places for you to start when kicking off brand conversations.
I’d love to hear what else you think makes an amazing brand. We have some great posts coming out soon on how to measure the growth of a brand, and a fun post on what our favorites brands are worth (you are going to be floored!) But in the meantime, let’s hear your tips — what have your favorite brands done amazing well when they built their brand? What is a brand to you?