Sunday 16 August 2020

3 Powerful But Simple Ways to Build a Brand

Funny how a brand is synonymous with business to some. Every small business owner now thinks they have a brand because they do some buying and selling when in fact, they do not. I get irritated when my WhatsApp DM gets flooded with sales broadcasts that end with a line like "Patronize our Brand today". 

Then I wonder, which brand? I don't know who needs to see this but you don't own a brand just because you buy goods from and sell to your customers even if your business has a name and social media pages. 

Granted, both concepts may not appear to be distinct, they are still very different. A business is a company that produces your products/services. The brand is how you connect to your target market to offer those products/services, how the customers perceive your business to be, the personality and value they instinctively attach to your business name upon hearing or seeing it.

Still not clear? Read on. 

In a nutshell, your brand is your reputation! It's focused on one central idea that embodies your business. It's what your target market thinks or says about your business. Unlike a business, branding takes a while before you start seeing its benefits. You can sell within a month or even a day. But it takes a whole lot more than that, years even, to build a successful brand. Let's go through a few examples below. 

Dangote, for example, is an established brand here in Nigeria and across African countries. When you think of essential needs in terms of food and shelter, Dangote is the name that comes to your mind. Their overall mission "Providing basic needs" constitutes the central idea of providing local products and services that meets the basic needs of people. A lot of households have at least one Dangote product. 

From refined salt, sugar, wheat, flour to poly sacks, cement, and other FMCGs, you can say Dangote is a successful brand and a successful business. Dangote invokes the feeling of self-sufficiency in people. You think of Dangote when you want to eat refined foods giving you the feeling that you are taking charge of your health. Smooth right? I know. That's why Dangote is a BRAND.

Coca-Cola: Positions its products in such an emotional way that consumers associate taking coke to feel happy which is the central idea they market to their consumers. Coca-Cola invokes feelings of happiness, fun, and inspires human connection. This is how people see them and think of their products. 

Apple: Needless to say that Apple is everyone's boss in the tech and market industry. Their mission statement "bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and service." Notice the keyword here➡ best user experience. When the name Apple comes up, people automatically think sophistication, mad tech, and ease. That's the perception and reputation Apple continually sells to its customers. It's not just about selling phones and gadgets, it's more of how they position that business in the market. 

What can you deduce from the brands? Let me help you. 

The identity and image they project, the experiences they invoke from customers using their products and services are what constitutes their perception as well as reputation. 

Think of it this way. I love taking coke and it makes me hyperactive. That's the way Coca-Cola made me see their brand. So when I hear, see, or take coke, I immediately think of fun and happiness. This Is Branding Not Just A Business. 

3 Powerful But Simple Ways To Build Your Brand. 

1.  Brand Identity: The first step you have to take in building a very strong brand is to your purpose. There's always a reason for starting something. Identifying such reasons gives clarity. By purpose, I mean the what, how, and why. Why do you want to build a brand? What problem will you solve? Why should people choose your brand? How are you different from others like you? 

Once you are done answering those key questions (I strongly advise you to document them in a file), the next thing for you is to make market research, know who your competitors and target audience is. Then, create a catchy and memorable brand name. If it's a personal brand, your official name is more fitting. Just ask Neil Patel, Neville Medhora, and me of course. 

Your name is ready, it's time you draft out your mission statement that contains what your brand is all about, your Unique value proposition (the very one special value you want to give to your audience that they may not get elsewhere or in the same way). Moving on, get a badass designer to give you a befitting logo/image that matches the personality you intend to project. You want to stand out from the crowd. 

Create your tagline, slogan, or chief message that will be associated with your brand and business in all areas. Remember to document as you create all these so it helps keep you in focus, show you the progress you are making, and facilitate consistency. 

2.  Brand Strategy: Everything you did in process 1, your Brand Identity, is what you'll map out a functional Brand strategy with. Brand strategy is more of a blueprint for how you want your target audience to perceive your brand to be

And it starts with the identity and personality you project. Personality in terms of Modern, Traditional, or Mix, Serious or Fun, Careful, or Restless. 
Asides the perception, you want to be recognized with a particular voice. Authoritative, friendly, fun, sarcastic, etc. 

Durex, for example, is a successful brand with a sarcastic brand voice. Their content is usually written with sarcasm. 

Next on your agenda is to determine and state the experience you intend to invoke with your products or services when customers use them. These experiences are of three types. Check below for a better understanding. 

Identity Experience: How does it make them feel?
Apple makes me feel sophisticated, classy
Coke makes me feel happy and energetic.

Inspirational Experience: What does it drive them to do?
I do more with my iPhone, it makes me feel efficient and productive. 
I have more drive and energy to do better things (coke).

Utilitarian Experience: What benefits do they gain from using it?
It gives me something to talk about when I'm with friends. The features, functionality, and ease. 
Coke makes it easy for me to make friends and connect more with people.

All these are what makes a brand. They convey how you intend to solve problems and how your target audience should see you. Anyone who uses the products or services from the brands listed above knows what kind of experience they would get prior purchase. With Identity, Perception, Reputation, and Experience the products/services invoke. 

3. Brand Marketing: Now, here is the business part of building your brand. This is where you have to match your brand's value and voice to your target audience using strategic communication. Strategic communication in terms of marketing and constantly producing relevant content. What you need to do here is create awareness of what you do or sell, and eventually make people buy. 

Through your previous efforts in building your brand identity and strategy, you'll be able to market your business and brand at the same time across channels such as Paid Advertising, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Email Marketing. 

Every one of the processes listed above isn't as difficult as it may seem at first. Of course, the patience and consistency of building your brand can prove to be a difficulty on its own. How much determination you have and how consistent you can iterate the process over and over again will determine the success of building your brand. You can start a business today and even make sales on the same day. It won't have any strong impact nor lasting impression. People won't remember you nor be able to tell you apart from your competitors. 

The Foundation of a Successful Branding 

You already know the process of building a brand from scratch. Like all buildings, building a brand needs an extremely strong foundation. To successfully build a brand, you need a strong pillar consisting of the following building concretes. 

Identity: as discussed already, you need a very strong identity either for your personal or business brand. Something distinct that separates you from your competitors. From the name, design, logo, colours to your particular niche. Niching down is very important, you don't have to be a jack of all trades. Take, for example, Dell. They started with their niche of selling personal computers to businesses directly but later moved to consumers and even added electronics as opposed to just computers alone. That's how they failed in branding. They weren't able to balance expanding their business and keeping their brand in a particular niche. 

Culture and Value: If you continually strive to give value, you'll create a strong, successful brand. Just as humans have cultures guiding their behaviour in society, so does a brand. There's the Performance culture that guides sales & marketing, the Flexible culture where things are undefined and easily adapted to. Whichever works for you, stick to it. 

Reputation: Considering today's ruthlessly competitive market, positioning your brand with a positive reputation is highly crucial. Naturally, humans will only buy your product or service if they can trust your interactions with others before them. I'm referring to both positive and negative reviews. 

Negative because if as a brand, you are very transparent about what others say about you regardless of how it might affect your business/brand, not just that, but how you handled such negativity, you'll win yourself some loyal fans/customers. Building your brand reputation requires you to excel at content marketing and customer relations, satisfaction.

Consistency: Understand that building anything at all, including a brand requires consistency. Also, remember that consistency starts right at the very beginning until forever. Consistency is what moves the whole brand building process forward up to the success stage. Be Consistent!  

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