What is a brand?
A brand is more than the name, logo, font and colors that define a company. A brand is what people think of when they hear a company name, it is how a company is perceived, and it is based on the relationship a company has with its customers.
What is branding in marketing?
|Branding In Marketing||Includes|
|Brand Association||What you associate the brand with, first-word thought exercise, gut feeling, perception, trust|
|Brand Name||Brand name, tagline, story|
|Brand Style||Logos, fonts, colors, brand voice, image
|Brand Presence||Photos, web presence on a google search, social media search, reviews|
A company gets to choose how it presents itself including choosing its own pretty colors, website, logo, photos, story, social media presence, fonts, brand voice, blasting PR memos, etc, but in the end, a brand is not how a company presents itself, and it is also not the color of the company’s logo.
A brand is not a physical tangible asset.
A brand exists only in the mind of those thinking about the company. A brand is how a company is perceived by others.
A company can do a lot to influence that perception, but at the end of the day, a brand is in the eye of the beholder.
When you hear the word Kylie Jenner, what is the next word you automatically think of?
For me it’s “Lip Kits.”
This means her personal brand is so intertwined with her business brand they are almost one. For Kylie, her personal brand is the secret sauce behind her business brand’s incredible success.
She and her business’ brand are one and the same, both incredibly famous, popular and successful.
Whether you agree if she’s self-made or not, that hardly matters when she has built a $1.2 billion dollar company off of a successful brand.
Not many, or even any at all, other 21 year olds have done that, ever, so there is obviously a lot to learn from how she did it, which was in large part due to her audience and branding.
She also had the ingenuity to solve her own problem, not having a lip pencil that matched her lipstick. She then used her platform and strong brand to launch the solution to her audience, many of whom already had the same problem and were happy to buy her solution.
Combining her personal problem with her product made it easy to launch her business brand as a natural extension of her own personal brand, the secret sauce that launched her business into billion dollar territory.
For comparison, what do you think of when you hear the name of Kylie’s sister, Kim Kardashian?
I think of “Tape”, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” and “Kanye West”.
Yes, Kim has some of her own businesses, but their brand is second to her own notoriety and fame. Kim is famous, but has less of a business brand than her sister, which is easily reflected in her own business that generated $100 million in sales in 2018, over three times less than Kylie Cosmetics $360 million in 2018 sales alongside it’s $600 million acquisition at a $1.2 billion valuation.
This is one example of how a stronger brand can take a business to much higher heights.
How to build a strong brand
To have a brand, people need to know who you or your company are. Attention is the currency by which you build a brand.
To get attention you need to get seen by as many people in as many places as possible, which many companies do by:
• Running ads in as many online platforms as possible
• Running ads in offline platforms such as TV, radio or billboards
• Putting up physical stores for a strong in-person presence wherever possible
• Having strong online search presence, writing content, doing SEO
• Running PR campaigns, going on national television
• Sponsoring influencers or celebrities to spread their brand
• Running events
• Going on podcasts, hosting your own podcast
• Creating a video or Youtube channel
• Going viral or creating a steady but small community on any social media platform
• Posting in forums or Quora until you’re seen as an expert
• Getting interviewed on TV, acting on shows, being on TV as much as possible
• Remarketing to their existing audience so people will see you so much they start viewing you as an expert
There are many ways to get well known, you can even go on reality television, which is one way Kylie Jenner actually built her attention currency that she turned into her brand, in combination with having a famous family.
The point is, you can get your attention from anywhere, but what matters is how you harness it into a brand to actually be successful.
You can build a strong brand by giving customers a great experience, and putting your best foot forward online and in-person.
Every time someone sees you either virtually or in-person and interacts with you virtually, through your business or in-person they are getting an impression in their head about you, your business and your brand.
That is what builds your brand, and that is why you need to put you and your business’ best foot forward in every single interaction in order to build a brand you are happy with.
Be specific & vulnerable to build a strong brand
Once you have enough of the attention currency, you need to make sure you are being specific, honest and vulnerable to build a brand people remember, connect with and come back to.
Being specific about the value you offer and to whom rather than general is better. For example, if a dentist is looking for a marketer and they think of your brand, do you think they are more likely to choose you if you are a general marketer who markets everyone, or a marketer who specializes in marketing dentists?
Of course they’ll remember you and choose you if you specifically specialize in marketing dentists. They’ll choose you because they will see you as the expert and they will feel you get them 100% and have their specific experience in mind and are their specific “person”.
Branding is about shining who you are and what you do through clearly so people looking for you see you and say that’s my person.
That’s why being vulnerable and honest can help too.
Just like when you’re making friends and you say “I feel this way sometimes” or “I have this problem”, and someone else says “wow me too, i thought i was the only one!” and you bond.
Or in the case of branding, the potential customer hears how you overcame your specific struggle, thinks to themself, “that’s what I’m going through right now & need help with. They are my person!” And then they choose you without even thinking or looking at the price.
It’s the same with story-telling and branding – you tell a story and share the struggle you went through and overcame, and people see that and see they’re in your struggle phase and then want to follow you or connect so they can get your help or perspective on their own situation which they feel is the same as yours.
People will also see you honestly and realness which will make your brand real and something they want to follow. It’s boring to follow a perfect brand or person because it simply isn’t real and there is no storyline.
Mistakes people make to dilute their brand
Promoting products just to make money
This is the time of social media influencers and every time you login to Instagram you see many influencers or people with large followings, even if they do not have strong “brands”, promoting products such as Fit Tea or other sponsored posts for a few hundred or thousand dollars.
When you promote bad products, or even “ok” products, or things you don’t use or believe in, your audience starts to trust you and your brand less, and ironically you end up ruining your brand and making less money.
Diluting the brand power they do have into way too many buckets
Even if the influencers or celebrities carefully screen products or partner with a handful of people, all of a sudden they are diluting their brand power and authority. Now when people think of their name, they don’t know what to trust them on, or what their specialty is.
Diluting their brand power makes them less effective at each subsequent future promotion and erodes their audiences trust in them and their brand.
The influencers promoting other good business’ products may make tens of thousands a year, likely not more than 6 figures, and more likely only a few hundred or thousand a year, and doing this erodes their own brand power, making it a losing proposition.
Worse, they are making the sad mistake of taking a following that could have seen them as an authority figure or unified brand they could have built a multi-hundred thousand dollar or million a year business on. However instead all they’re doing is diluting their own brand by promoting cheap ad products in various niches and barely scraping by.
Why is a strong brand important?
Having a strong brand means your audience knows exactly who you are. This means they will buy from you if you have something they need.
When you have a brand that is clear and specific, your ideal audience will naturally be strongly attracted to you, know you, trust you and buy from you, all things you want if you are a business.
A person can also have a strong brand, independent of their business, which they can leverage in their own personal and professional ways.
However, if you as a person have a strong brand already, one of the most powerful things you can do is leverage your existing brand into building your own business, as Kylie Jenner was able to successfully do.
A strong brand lets you sell items at any price without worrying about cost. Think about the “brandless” supermarket items that are always cheaper than any of the real brands because they inspire less trust and need to be the cheapest in order to sell.
When you have an audience that knows and trusts your brand, you will be the go-to and first one they think of when they need to buy what you are selling.
Your audience and those who know your brand will buy your product or service without even looking at the price-tag.
With a strong brand you don’t have to play the price-cutting game or have your only value be that your product or service is priced for less than that of your competitors. Getting out of the price game and having customers buy without even considering the cost is the true value of a strong brand.
Finally, the most important part of a brand is that a brand is a relationship with your customers.
A relationship with customers means loyalty, trust, and returning customers. It means continual business and is an attention currency of its own.
A strong brand is more powerful than money
A brand is also a recession-proof currency.
If the economy blows up and the government runs out of money, shuts down and all the banks close, and all money becomes worthless, guess what? When the dust settles down, people will be searching for and trying to find and buy from people and companies who had a strong brand before the blow-up.
People won’t forget about their relationships with friends or family members, and neither will they forget about their relationships with brands such as Kylie Jenner, Google, Amazon, Swiffer, Coca-cola and more. They will still actively think about, search for and find all of the brands and people they followed and trusted before, even after an economic shutdown.
A strong brand can be worth more than money, since money can inflate and lose all value, but a brand is based on a relationship, making it one of the most valuable things you can build both as a person and a company.
Many marketers or companies make the mistake of thinking a brand is all about picking a great font, colors and logo, but in reality, a great brand is all about creating a great relationship with and experience for customers.
The relationship and experience of a brand are what makes it great and also what keeps loyal customers loving the brand enough to keep coming back.