In early 2016 I had the chance to attend the Creative Marketing Conference (CMC) hosted by the John Molson Marketing Association (JMMA). The conference included speakers, workshops, a unique case competition and unlimited networking opportunities that all came together to make this a first class gathering of creative marketing minds. Among the numerous points I absorbed from this event, one topic in particular stood out to me. This topic was “branding” and the specific aura or essence that gets created by successful brands. The power of brands fascinates me and that is why I was moved to write a piece on creative branding but more specifically, what I learned that day from Gerard Cleal (Art Director for ALDO Group International and ALDO Product Services) and my own take on the subject.
A brand can be broken down into 5 essential branches, each with consideration to the company’s goals, mission, vision and reasons for being. When all of these branches work together to connect consumers to the company, the brand has the means to be successful. Let’s take a look at what makes up that brand.
A brand promise is important, because it connects your purpose, your positioning, your strategy and your people. A brand promise can be manifested and expressed or it can be subtle and underlies everything the company does. This promise has to have meaning and should be measurable.
Criteria of a brand promise
- It must convey a compelling benefit
- It must be authentic & credible
- It must be kept, every time
Examples of a brand promise (simply put)
Walmart: “Save money. Live better.” – everyday low prices for the everyday consumer
Coca-Cola: “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.”
*note: a slogan is not necessarily the brand promise, but is often reflective of it
Brand perceptions are not owned by companies, but rather by the consumers. The stories, relationships and offerings are ultimately what gets talked about when it comes to a brand. Those conversations are the embodiment of brand perceptions. With the emergence of social media and other innovative tools, companies can and should measure these perceptions as much as possible and help steer the brand to desired perceptions based on the information. Companies need to get to know their customers as if they were on a personal basis and only then can brands start to influence perceptions and build messages surrounding them. How customers perceive your brand can either make it or break it.
A brand personality literally eludes to the level of relatability your brand has with people. Humanizing your brand can help it become more relatable and give your brand certain positive characteristics that can push it to the next level. You build your brand personality by communicating with customers from in store experiences to online social conversations and every interaction in between. Your personality is built over time with consistency and dedication to what your company is all about.
After you have continuously built up the brand, the next step is getting the customer to your store or interacting with the service or product you are offering. Customers come to this stage with certain expectations and if they are not met or exceeded then your branding has either failed or missed the mark. It is crucial that every experience point from visiting a webpage to interacting with customer service is optimized to deliver on the aspects of the brand that we touched on earlier. Make sure to conduct as many self-audits as possible to ensure that you are delivering on your promise and satisfying every customer. These expectations are not a one-time thing, they need to be met or exceeded every single time for every single customer. That should be the company’s goal.
Brand expression explores two aspects. One being how people interact and relate with the brand as a form of their personal expression. This is easily seen in the fashion industry but can be applied throughout commerce. If I design shirts with animals on it, people who want to express a part of them can choose to wear my shirts with their favorite animal on it. When it comes to brands it is more of a statement. These statements can represent personal beliefs, statuses, positions and much more. The second aspect is how brands communicate a certain identity through brand experiences that people want to associate with. Brands express who they are, and put themselves out there to be either accepted or rejected by the market. Focusing on these 5 branches and doing them right is what influences acceptance.
2016, L. F. (2016). Elements of a Successful Brand 4: Brand Promise | Hinge Marketing. Retrieved December 08, 2016, from https://hingemarketing.com/blog/story/elements-of-a-successful-brand-4-brand-promise1