Given the intensity of competition these days, building a strong brand isn’t an option anymore. It’s a necessity. It’s something you need to take seriously—especially if you’re not doing it now. Your competitors do.
Branding is a proven promotional tool. It increases customer recognition and organizational competitiveness, enhances customer loyalty and shared value, and boosts credibility and ease of purchasing. It also helps new products or services introductions.
More importantly, building a strong brand boosts profitability dramatically—increasing your chances of surviving long term. It’s a tool that more and more organization are seriously employing. If you’re not building a strong brand, your competitors are.
More than a Name and Logo
Branding is more than just a name and logo. Branding is how people perceive you when interacting with you. When executed correctly, branding fosters an emotional connection between consumers and an organization that helps drives sales.
Think Apple, Walmart, BBC, and Bestbuy.
But building a strong brand isn’t easy. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort to create the kind of brand that features a strong emotional link between consumers and an organization.
The seven steps we discuss below can help you build a strong brand with staying power:
1. Find your niche
First, you need to find your niche in the marketplace. To do that, you have to decide who your target audience is and what things interest them as well as the language they use. You also need to research your competitors. That tells you how consumers perceive them. Using this information, you can then find your place in the industry. Lululemon, Quidsi, and Zumiez are good examples of successful niche companies.
2. Pick your focus and personality
Your brand—and your company—can’t be all things to all people. You need to pick a focus and a personality for your company. So, your next step is to determine your company’s focus and personality.
The key here is to craft a positioning statement that stakes a claim in the marketplace and captures your unique selling point. The old school tool discussed in this article can help you craft a solid positioning statement.
3. Create an own-able narrative
You want your brand to resonate with customers. To do that you need to create a narrative about your company that reflects the brand and is relevant to end users. In other words, you want to create one that generates consumers passionate about your products or services.
Apple’s iPhone is a good example. Many of its customers are steadfastly loyal and would never think of buying another smartphone model. But it all starts with an own-able narrative.
4. Be omnipresent online
If you’re like many businesses, you probably have a Facebook page and a Twitter page. That’s not enough. You need to be present on as many relevant online media outlets as possible, including YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Being omnipresent used to be hard. But no more. Thanks to the World Wide Web, you can do this cost-effectively. It’s just a question of re-purposing the content you develop for a wide range of uses.
5. Partner with other brands
You don’t have to go it alone these days. Partnering with other companies boosts your brand’s staying power and increases value to your customers. No matter what industry you’re in or how big you are, you can form a strategic partnership with another company that pays off. Just make sure you find a strategic partner that:
Complements your brand
Is known for its thought leadership
Holds similar business values
Advocates for your brand
Is easy to work with
6. Writes thought leadership articles
Writing these types of articles creates credibility. When combined with other marketing tactics, like speaking engagements and guest blogging, these articles can boost your brand’s impact
But you need to pick the right opportunities to take part in, whether your writing, blogging, or speaking. That takes time and effort. Remain open to what pops up and you’ll be visible everywhere
7. Practice two-way networking
It’s easy to focus on your own needs when networking. But that’s a mistake. For networking to work, you need to focus on the what the other organization’s goals are. In other words, you need to make sure you give the other person a chance to benefit from the relationship.
This approach will generate more opportunities and connections for you and strengthen your brand significantly. The approach even works when you’re trying to establish your personal brand.
Use the seven tips above to create a strong brand—one that its target audience is passionate about, like Apple and Harley Davidson. Building a strong brand these days isn’t an option. It’s a necessity. It’s how you’ll survive and thrive in the future.
Remember, if you’re not building your brand, chances are good your competitors are building theirs. And that could spell disaster for you company.