We’ve touched upon the truth (see Build Better Brands – Part 1). Now for how we get there.
So what do you need to build a compelling brand? First up is patience. Brand building is a future investment that will pay dividends over time. But it’s also a long-haul journey. Plan it properly and you’ll be rewarded with the voyage of a lifetime. Rush it and your customers may well disembark at the first port. In dynamic markets where the winds of change can be rapid, it’s tempting to look for quick wins to keep your ship on course. But there are no short-cuts to building an authentic brand.
We often see the common mistake of bypassing the strategic narrative and lurching straight for short-term tactics. Digital technology has provided an obvious catalyst for quick-fix approaches, with many lured into thinking ‘channel-first, message later’. It doesn’t work – there’s too much noise out there. A shiny new website, social content or an all-singing app is worthless if the content flowing through it is not anchored to a clearly defined brand narrative. You need to know where you’re headed – and why – before you decide the best form of transport to take you there.
Defining that brand narrative – and getting to the truth – can be a complex exercise. But it’s important to take a hard look at what you have and honestly answer the tough questions. What is your product/service and why is it relevant to customers? Why is it better than the competition and how do you substantiate that? Where does it fit the market? How can it be adapted to respond to change and harness opportunities? Who is it for and why should they care? What are their drivers, barriers, pain-points and motivations? And how do you satisfy their needs? It’s only by building a granular understanding of your organisation’s ecosystem that you can develop a narrative that clearly communicates your point-of-difference. You need a clarity of character to stand out, and that is encompassed in your tone-of-voice, culture, qualities and values – these human elements that, if you get them right, can make a crucial emotional connection with your customers and, just as importantly, your employees.
The final requirement for brand building is methodology. It’s important to have the right processes, capabilities and tools in place to unlock the truth within your business. It’s difficult to do this on your own – you know your businesses intimately but may not always articulate it in ways that capture, connect and convert customers. That’s where a strong ‘brand compass’ helps bridge the gap between often complex strategic business understanding and the clarity of a brand narrative that steers you in the right direction – forwards.