Think branding is just another exercise in marketing mumbo jumbo? Then you’re probably missing a trick.
In a world or fake news and post-truth politics, the value of a strong brand is as indisputable as it is intangible. In cluttered markets where competitive advantages hinge on the narrowest nuance, a clearly defined brand communicates the uniqueness of your business. It helps differentiate your products/services in ways that set you apart. And it can be the difference between a loyal customer relationship and a one-night-stand; short-lived revenues or long-term growth. Despite this, brand building is often undervalued, overlooked or misunderstood – a missed opportunity in our book.
So here’s the thing: a brand is much more than a name, a visual identity or a clever slogan. It’s grounded in your entire business. Moreover, the most successful brands aren’t made from buzzwords and marketing gimmicks, they’re built on three pillars; the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In a world where so many brand promises turn out to be little white lies, the truth always stands out.
As Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz once put it “authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies – they emanate from everything the company does.” Your point-of-difference – that sweet spot that propels you from the crowd – is rooted in the truth of your everyday. It’s linked as much to your culture and your values as it is to your products/services, your people, your innovations and your market. So, while modern businesses understandably extol the virtues of customer-centricity, the process of identifying a differentiator that becomes your brand DNA should always begin with a comprehensive self-evaluation. In other words lift the lid to challenge who, what, why and where.
By deconstructing facets of your business, you can reveal the secret of what makes you unique – and translate it into a brand promise that everyone in your organisation believes in and gets behind. As Mark Twain wrote, if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. An authentic brand narrative that everyone buys into plays by the same rules: it can be clearly communicated without doubt or hesitation – and replicated consistently across all channels. Everyone feels better when telling the truth.
It goes without saying that your point-of-difference must also speak to your customers’ needs. If it’s relatable, relevant and useful to them – and your promises mirror their real-world experiences – they’ll keep coming back for more. Strong, truthful brands can win the hearts and minds of your employees and your customers. And that can only be good for business.
Fundamentally, we’re all in the business of storytelling. And a great brand is a story that’s always being told. The question is: do you want to tell a tall story or the truth? The truth wins every time. So never mind the marketing b*llocks – the best businesses really are built on three pillars; the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We swear by it.