One of the major hurdles that a young company has to overcome is developing a strong brand identity. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you don’t have a brand that people connect with, then it’s impossible to see real business growth.
Whether you’re right at the beginning and struggling to pinpoint exactly what your brand is, or you’re further along and looking to strengthen your identity, these are some tips that should prove very useful.
Playing to Your Strengths
The rules of creating a meaningful brand are in some ways very similar to the rules of poker; you can only play with the cards you have been dealt. If you have a strong concept and a team surrounding you that are capable of pulling it off, then your brand is in a great position – you’ve got a full house. When building a brand from scratch, you need to focus on what is unique about your company and how that solves a problem for consumers.
Take, for example, watchmaking company, Audemars Piguet. What strengths do they have that help to differentiate them from the other watchmaking brands? First of all, they set themselves apart by catering for the top end of the market; they create their watches from beautiful and high quality materials. This sense of inherent value and provenance rightly puts them in the luxury price range, immediately removing low end competitors who create watches from plastic and low-end metals, such as Swatch, or Omega.
Next, Audemars Piguet have to set themselves apart from other luxury brands. In a luxury watch market saturated with Swiss Brands, their Swiss heritage is not enough. However, they have been in business since 1881, so in this instance, age and experience are very much on their side; in this way they streak ahead of Patek Phillipe or Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Finally, they’ve got the big names to tackle, so what makes them different from internationally coveted Rolex? Well, they make by hand and in fact, scarcity plays a role in their value. Rolex create huge volumes of watches, not all of which by hand, so the sense of uniqueness and craftsmanship will encourage some buyers to spend their money with Audemars Piguet, over all other watchmakers.
Recognising and Targeting the Correct Customer
Whilst working with your unique selling point to differentiate yourself from the competition is important, it’s also vital to understand your target market.
Using a slightly ridiculous idea from the example above, if Audemars Piguet were to launch an expensive advertising campaign that targeted exclusively P.E Teachers, not only would it fail to generate any income from the market they’d identified, it would also alienate their existing customers. After all, P.E. teachers are unlikely to be able to afford the watch and even if they could, there’d be plenty of sportier watches that they would sooner spend the money on.
Although businesses don’t usually misidentify their target market this dramatically, it is not at all uncommon for the target customer profile to need a little tweaking. It’s a good idea to develop a clear ‘avatar’ customer, who would respond the most favourably to your brand. Get inside their head, map out their day to day life, how they eat, how they dress, where they work. The closer you can get to your customer, the more precisely you’ll be able to target them through both product and advertising.
Building Trust With a Narrative
Once you’ve identified your target customer, and outlined your strengths and unique selling point, you’re ready to create a strong narrative. The chances are you’re not in charge of the branding for a 200 year old watch company, so you’ll have to get a bit creative in order to create a story to your brand.
Drinks company Innocent Smoothies came from absolutely nothing and rose to a household name in a relatively short space of time; they did this by creating a strong backstory and aligning their brand with charities that matched that. Their ethos was simple, to include only natural ingredients, which they made incredibly clear on all of their packaging and advertising.
One of the charities they supported helped to provide drinking water in less economically developed countries, reinforcing the idea of a good drinks company, providing something healthy to drink. They became a brand to be trusted, through their product, their customer experience, and their charitable donations.
Although the brand have since been bought by Coca Cola, who aren’t as famous for their charitable business credentials, the drinks giant realised the good work that had been done surrounding the brand and continued to support the charities they had chosen.