Put simply, a brand is your identity— it’s the impression consumers have or the emotions they feel when hearing or seeing your product or company name. It’s more than your logo, more than your messaging and more than your product experience—rather, it’s the sum of all the interactions an individual has with your company, each working to influence their perception of your brand.
Consumers make decisions based on more than just product features, so it’s crucial that you aim to not only deliver an exceptional product experience, but to also build a strong brand that can stand the test of time. Here are five key building blocks of a great brand:
Understand What Defines A Brand
As you begin building a brand that aims to effectively resonate with your target audience, consider the following:
- Vision – What about the world is changing that makes your company necessary? Where do you see your business and brand being in five years? 10 years? 20+ years?
- Promise – What do you promise to customers at the most fundamental level?
- Attributes – What makes you different, better and unique?
- Emotion – From a customer’s perspective, what does it feel like to engage with you?
Accept That You’ll Lose Control
In the very early stages of a startup, the brand tends to embody the values and personalities of its founders. Before a startup introduces its product/service into the market, the story of the brand will be told by the company, allowing founders to have a lot of control over the brand.
Once the product/service is available, the market will begin to tell your brand’s story. At this point, your customers will develop and share their own perceptions of your brand. Moreover, the perceived brand will be represented by the employees, the company culture and the execution of business operations.
Imagine that if before you launched, you had conveyed that you were a luxury brand, but when your customers began to use your product, they perceived it as far less than luxurious. In this instance, you over-promised and under-delivered. Startups often make this mistake early on, thus causing brand image to suffer.
Consider the promises that you can over-deliver on and initially convey those. Be realistic— don’t over-promise but don’t also be so cautious that you undersell. Initially, you can convey what your solution offers at the most fundamental level. Then, let satisfied customers sell others on the additional benefits they recognize that your product/service can deliver.
Time difference between a good brand and a great brand is consistency. Consumers want to be able to depend on your brand to be consistent in the products/services it delivers and how it markets itself. Remain consistent with your messaging, design, perspective and the actual product you’re offering.
In addition, brand-consumer relationships are in many ways similar those between people, especially in their need to be nurtured. Nurture your customer relationships by consistently building trust, focusing on quality and always meeting their expectations.
As with every other stage of the go-to-market journey, you’ll want to assess your efforts. Identify metrics relative to your marketing initiatives that can be measured to determine if you are staying true to your brand.
For example, a restaurant may regularly measure the shape and weight of its cheeseburgers to ensure that those measurements remain consistent. In addition, polling and listening to your customers will ensure your brand is reliably fulfilling its promises.
For more useful tips on getting your venture started the right way, check out JumpStart’s Entrepreneur Toolkit, which includes an in-depth Go-To-Market Strategy Tool and Go-To-Market Strategy Worksheet.
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