Every smart marketer knows the importance of branding. A strong brand differentiates your company from competitors, conveys the highest value you deliver, and serves as an implicit promise to your customers of what your organization stands for.
But what’s the difference between a good brand and a truly great one? How do you create a brand identity that’s so powerful, it becomes one of your most valuable assets — and the centerpiece of a smart marketing strategy?
Here are six factors that separate the best brands from the rest, and examples of marketers who are using these factors to set the bar for branding success.
6 Factors Shared by Great Brands
- A Clear Identity: The marketer’s brand stands for something unique to the customer, something clearly different from any other competitor in the company’s marketplace. What Apple and Mercedes-Benz represent, for example, is so distinctly different that no competitor can match them.
- Trust: The customer trusts that what the marketer says is true, because the customer knows from experience they can believe what the marketer tells them. When you ship with FedEx, your package will arrive on time. When you buy from L.L. Bean, the product is guaranteed for your entire life.
- Value: The brand delivers something the customer wants, needs, and appreciates, and the customer believes they get a fair deal for their money. Target sells consumer products of very high quality at modest prices. Tiffany customers pay top dollar for jewelry, but the value of a Tiffany’s piece, from the quality of the product to the beauty of the distinctive blue package, is perceived to be worth the investment.
- Consistency: The customer’s experience is consistent every time they encounter the brand, whether it’s in advertising, a retail store, face-to-face with an employee, or using the product. Disney is the master of brand consistency in entertainment, Nordstrom in retailing. You know exactly what to expect from these marketers because you almost always receive it.
- A Distinctive Voice: The brand has a point of view, attitude, or persona that comes through to the customer in everything the marketer does. This point of view is so well-defined that the customer can recognize it even when the brand logo isn’t present. You don’t need to see the logo to know you’re watching a Victoria’s Secret ad, reading their direct mail catalog, shopping in their store, or wearing their clothes.
- Intimacy with the Customer: The customer feels they have a relationship with the marketer; the marketer knows them and knows what they like. Amazon.com customizes messaging and product selection at every step of online shopping to make you feel they actually know you. Starbucks customers and baristas share a private language where words like skinny, tall, and a double shot have a special meaning; baristas often remember customers’ favorite drinks.
Can Your Brand Do This?
You don’t have to be a FORTUNE® 500 company or a giant consumer marketer to do branding well. Any company can use these same six factors to create a unique, memorable, and meaningful identity that establishes an effective presence in the marketplace.
For more tips on branding, see 10 Steps to Building a Great Brand.