“Without the brand, Apple would be dead.”
Marc Gobe, Marketer and Author
Technically speaking, your brand is anything that distinguishes your organization or product from others: your name, logo, design, a certain feature, and so on.
But it’s so much more than that.
Your brand represents who you are in the eyes of the consumer. It’s what draws a potential client to your store instead of the one next door. It’s what makes them buy a Lexus instead of a Honda. And it’s what makes them stick around, going from a one-time buyer (possibly persuaded by marketing, which is different than branding), to a loyal return-customer and advocate.
Branding is all around us. It influences how we perceive people, things, and companies every day – often without us even realising it.
Let’s look at some examples. What image comes to mind when you think of the following:
Tim Hortons vs. Starbucks
Apple vs. Dell
Lululemon vs. Nike
You’re perception of the kind of people who shop at these places is different based on where they shop – right? Someone who goes to Tim Hortons for a coffee is probably blue collar and wearing jeans, while a Starbucks customer is likely an office worker in a suit who cares about ethically-sourced coffee. Both of them are older and more straight line than the twenty-something getting an Americano brewed with locally roasted beans at their independent coffee shop.
These people are all doing the same thing (drinking coffee), and all share a love (or at least a need) for coffee. But it’s the brand represented by the coffee shop that makes it their favourite spot to stop at 8am every day, on their way into the office. Or, maybe the coffee shop is their office – unless it’s Tim Hortons, probably. No one goes there sets up a laptop for a few hours. See how it works?
So how do you build your own brand?
Why: Start by thinking about your core values. What do you believe in? What do you want your business to stand for? Maybe it’s the best customer service in town. Maybe it’s promoting local products. Hint: This is the reason you went into business in the first place – it’s why you do what you do.
The why is what helps you focus in on your business proposition: what makes you different (and better) than your competitors? Why should coffee drinkers come to your shop instead of a different one, when you both sell coffee? It’s easy to say “I sell great coffee.” But what kind of coffee? From where? And to whom are you selling it? Take some time to really think about these questions, and it will help you focus your brand.
Who: It’s important to think about who you are selling to. Not only does it help define your target audience (which helps with your marketing strategy), but these are the people who actually determine what your brand is.
Think about it this way:
Your brand isn’t what you say you are, it’s what people think you are.
Once you’ve established what it is you want to do and be known for, you have to do things and take actions that demonstrate that value.
Companies with clear brand identities:
TOMS: Through your purchases, TOMS helps provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need. Learn more about what we give.
Goodlife Fitness: Live the Good life. A healthier, happier life is one step away.
Apple: Powerful creativity and productivity tools live inside every Mac — apps that help you explore, connect and work more efficiently.
Apple is the best example we have of smart branding. Ask any techie, and they will tell you that Apple products are usually of a lower technological quality than their competitors, yet they sell at a much higher price point. Marketer Marc Gobe, author of Emotional Branding, has said Apple’s survival actually lies in their brand:
“Without the brand, Apple would be dead,” he said. “Absolutely. Completely. The brand is all they’ve got. The power of their branding is all that keeps them alive. It’s got nothing to do with products.”
Build your brand properly, and you’ll never have to worry about attracting clients.
Once you have a clear vision of why you’re doing what you do and the value you provide by doing it, you can start build a smart marketing strategy to get your brand in front of the customers who will care most – your target audience.
Want to get started on your brand but need more help? Let’s chat.