The brand is one of an organization’s most valuable assets. With brands like Apple’s valued at $98.3 billion, Google’s at $93.3 billion, and Coca Cola’s at $79.2 billion, it’s understandable why building and protecting a brand is a high priority for marketing businesses of any size.
A brand is far more than its outward representation, like a logo, or advertising jingle and tagline. Marketing pundit Seth Godin’s defines a brand as, “the set of expectations, memories…and relationships that account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Strong brands can impact organizations across a variety of fronts:
Realizing such benefits takes a brand building strategy that is built around trust, recognition and a positive image.
Who do you trust?
Consumers tend to favor and develop a high degree of loyalty to brands they know they can trust. This requires establishing and communicating a brand promise and building a customer experience that upholds the promise consistently at every stage of the purchase cycle.
Trust comes with confidence in the underliers that define the brand: quality, responsiveness, experience, credibility and innovation. It’s not just personal experience that shapes the consumer’s trust and expectations that a brand will deliver. Strong brands create evangelists who are not shy about sharing their stories. Those types of peer endorsements are extremely powerful ways of virally building a brand’s trust factor.
The importance of recognition
When people are familiar with brands, they are more inclined to favor them – provided there are positive associations inherent to that familiarity. The visual representations are important. The look and feel that distinguish the brand, from colors to logo to the name of the brand itself, need to be consistent and easily recognized. This creates a comfort and confidence in the product or service that the brand represents. It can also help differentiate the brand from the increasing number of competitors in a crowded marketplace.
Shaping a positive image
Above and beyond the visual image, there’s a broader and more important matter at stake when it comes to a brand. It involves a reputation, or perceptions of everything the brand represents, conveying a sense of the kind of company that stands behind it. A number of factors and activities can help achieve this over time.
On one hand, there are the practical actions that a business takes, and how brand-supporting they are. These include internal practices and policies, like employment and advancement of minorities and women or cultural nuances, like family friendly policies. They also include how associates on the front lines deal with customers, from their responsiveness at the purchase point to their helpfulness resolving complaints.
Another important contributor is the organization’s interest in and generosity to the wider community, beyond its customers. In today’s world, building the kind of vibrant and powerful brand that characterizes the strongest businesses goes beyond mere products, names and logos. It takes a sophisticated brand strategy that balances a diverse range of considerations to deliver an overall customer experience that establishes and maintains a high degree of trust and credibility.