If you’ve traveled anywhere, domestic or abroad, you know there are just some company brands that transcend borders. Their logos are known by everyone, their products or services are common knowledge, and everyone, everywhere has a basic understanding of the type of experience they will have if they choose to interact with that company. So how did they accomplish such widespread recognition? Well, before we dive into that, let’s cover the basics.
What is a Brand?
A brand is a perception. More specifically, a brand is the sum total of what people think and feel and how they respond when they see your brand marks or interact with your organization. A brand identity is not a logo, color palette, or website.
Got that? Brand is the feeling or gut reaction the public has when they see your brand marks or interact with your company. Which means, you don’t own your brand! It lives in the mind of consumers and influencers (not just your direct customers). But the good news is, you can help shape your brand through intentional steps (brand marks, inbound/content marketing, and customer service) that communicate your mission and values, and influence the perception of your organization.
Why is Having a Strong Brand Important?
A strong brand is the most valuable intangible asset any organization owns. It clearly communicates what an organization stands for (or against); is credible, authentic, and aspirational; connects emotionally with its audience; motivates them to take action; and creates loyalty.
Building a strong brand seems like a lot of work. So why should you bother to invest time and money into creating a great brand? Three words: Disney, Nike, and Coca-cola. These companies and more have gone way beyond the logo to make sure their customers have the best experience at every touchpoint. In return, they have earned the right to be first in the minds of consumers everywhere in their respective categories.
Now that we’ve recapped what a brand is and why it’s important to your bottom line, here are the 3 qualities shared by great brands everywhere.
#1: They Make You Feel Something
A great brand is insight driven, emotional, and inspiring. The business behind the brand has invested the time necessary upfront to do their research. What does the business stand for? Why do they sell what they sell? Who is their target audience? No, really, who are they as people?
For Disney, it’s all in the details. When you visit one of their theme parks, the magic is real. They go to painstaking lengths to hide the work behind the character appearances and consumers associate happiness and magic with the Disney brand as a result.
Nike too connects and inspires their audience. No other brand speaks so directly to the insecurity every athlete feels at one time or another with an encouraging message like, “Just do it.”
#2: They are Instantly Recognizable
A great brand is visually distinctive and consistent. They use their brand marks and visual identity consistently across all customer touch points. While that may mean simply adding your logo to all of your collateral at first, eventually you’ll want to expand your style to a pallet that can be used in surprising and fresh ways.
You don’t need to read the words “Coca-cola” to know that the distinctive shaped bottle or wave graphic element means delicious refreshment awaits you. But what if you hear an ice-cold can cracked open and the hiss of the carbonated bubbles? Thirsty yet?
#3: They Compel You to Engage, Share, and Discuss
A great brand is a great storyteller. Marketing has changed over the last 20 years. People no longer want you to tell them why they should interact with your company, they want you to show them. It’s up to you to live your brand’s story and share it in places that allow consumers to engage with you. Map all of your brand’s touchpoints and create a strategy that will encourage your audience to interact with you voluntarily along their purchasing journey. But remember, your brand story should focus on sharing the values of your organization and speaking the truth. Consumers are looking for brands and companies that they can trust!
Subaru, for example, has storytelling wrapped around its little finger. When they launched the “Dear Subaru” campaign, they gave their community the ultimate tool to engage with the brand while intertwining the customer’s story with their own. Bravo, Subaru.
Take the Test: How Strong is YOUR Brand?
Want to learn more? Check out our downloadable test: How Strong Is Your Brand?