Most businesses go to market with their product as the priority. Market leaders put their brand first and foremost. When conversations turn to brand many business leaders say, ‘Yes, my brand could do with a refresh. We haven’t looked at the logo in a while.’
What they’re referring to is branding (activities that affect brand perceptions) rather than what we’re focusing on here, which is brand (the sum of perceptions about you, your business, your products and services). It’s an important distinction to make in terms of understanding why brand is so vital – particularly if you want to grow your business.
We’re still at an early stage in the brand story although market leaders certainly recognise its importance. While brand has always been something that consumers notice, Y-Gen in particular buy into the brand concept. But what are they actually buying into? They’re buying into the DNA within the brand, which is far more than just a neat logo.
How to value brand
Today’s brands are built on three core organisational values: higher sales, increased awareness and greater business value.
Business owners have traditionally believed that growth equals more revenue from more products, which in turn delivers more value. But brand is the missing growth factor in this equation.
The simple truth is that, to jump you must build a brand effectively. In building that brand you must first understand that brand connects with both the asset and revenue lines.
We can point to several examples of great brand building: Nike, Virgin and Apple. Steve Jobs rarely said, ‘I’m here to talk about the iPad.’ He was more likely to convey the Apple brand by saying, ‘I’m here to talk about the future of technology, what innovation means and how we’ll roll it out in the market.’ He would subliminally explain what Apple stands for – the passion and purpose of the brand – and would understand how he wanted to leave people feeling once he had left the room, to then engage with the brand and the product.
Design your brand top-down by creating the brand architecture to reflect the organisations landscape, within the context of tomorrow and not just today. Delivering a future map for the business in this way is a key step to uncovering potential market gaps and helping your business to achieve growth.
Three important brand building steps
Building your brand requires thinking far more broadly than simply answering the question, ‘What are our products?’ Effective brand-building positions your business away from
the competition and makes you a market leader by having brand clarity and confidence in where you’re going.
1. Build the brand around your market gap
What’s tomorrow’s gap in your market? If you future map your business into that gap you’ll understand how to stand out in a crowded space. Not only that, but you’ll also be future-proofing your brand.
2. Build the brand around your vision
Next, think about your vision, or what I call your ‘game’. What game are you playing and what does it look like beyond today and through to your end growth number? This question applies whether you’re in early stage start-up or taking your business up to the next level.
3. Build the brand around your story
Now begin to build your story because people buy into stories. What’s the problem you’re trying to solve in the world? What’s the solution and how will you deliver it?
The future is bright for brand
Most business owners recognise the importance of marketing and sales to drive revenue. However, some connect less with the phrase, ‘build your brand, build your business.’
With a traditional mindset of ‘brand’ meaning ‘branding’, the buck usually stops with the marketing team. Although well-used to communicating product messages, marketing isn’t always equipped for building a cross-business brand plan that connects all business areas.
Creating a recognised brand drives business passion and purpose to deliver the brand spirit at the heart of your business.
If we fast-forward, most, if not all large organisations will have a head of global brand. In the not too distant future, once the importance of brand – as opposed to branding – is more universally recognised, we could see head of global brand become the ultimate CEOs for their business.