by Mike Bawden, President & CEO
I’ve written quite a bit about how to create brand equity. But in reviewing all of those missives, I find I continue to come back to the one essential truth on which I’ve built my professional career:
“Brand equity is built through a series of promises made and promises kept.”
It’s that simple. Really.
It’s the same rule that applies to any relationship whether between parent and child, spouses, or employer and employee. Human beings tend to infuse life and meaning into everything they interact with, and that includes brands. So people really do have relationships with brands – and how those brands are handled by their stewards makes a difference in how much those relationships mean to the people who use them.
On Brand Crafting
So the first part of the process is easy to understand. It’s the “promise making” part. What we tell people. The images we evoke. The jingles. The jokes. The jeers.
Crafting a brand shouldn’t happen by accident. If you own and have responsibility for a brand, you need to be deliberate in how you position that brand and can clearly identify what kind of valuable contribution that brand brings to the people who matter most to it.
Think about it as having a “point of view” and a “proposition” for your brand.
This is your quest for “relevance” in the eyes of the customers, employees and partners you’re trying to form relationships with. If you can’t understand how or why your brand should matter to them, don’t even think of wasting money on the “shouting from the rooftops” part of this job.
For many brands, a “point of view” reflects the culture and values of the organization. It’s your approach to solving a problem, distilled down into a bottle, a service, a platform or a “mission” that drives your enterprise. Sometimes, a brand’s point of view doesn’t appeal to a prospective customer – and that’s okay. It’s all part of the social selection process people go through when they try to sift through the millions of messages and impressions that come at them relentlessly every day.
But you’re missing opportunities (and business) if the way you communicate your point of view is muddled in the messaging. Simply put, people will skip over messages delivered from a point of view they don’t understand.
You won’t even get a hearing, let alone a fair trial.
Once you’ve got a clear point of view on your brand, though, you’re work isn’t through. Understanding who you are and what you stand for is only part of the job. You need to do even more work getting to know and understand the people who are most important to your brand’s success: your customers, employees and business partners.
That takes time and effort (and usually money), but it can yield insights into the needs, aspirations, fears and concerns of those people with whom you want to do business.
And that’s a good thing.
You can use that information to identify opportunities where your interests and point of view overlaps with their needs and wants. With a little creative thought, you should be able to spot opportunities for making promises that will really mean something. Promises with real value.
Those are your brand’s propositions – and they need to be clearly and concisely explained, expertly packaged and delivered right to the people who need to hear them.
What you do with your brand after its promises are heard and understood is the subject of my next post on Brand Building.