Throughout time people have chosen their persona, friends, and possessions to create a message that says remember me – this is who I am and what I stand for. Applied to companies and products it’s called branding. A well developed brand conveys meaning, trust and status. It makes for loyal customers, creates aspiration and acts as a “badge” to show others who you are.
The Essence of Branding
The key to successful branding is to stand for something. More specifically – and critically important – is to make your brand stand for one thing. Just one. That doesn’t imply that it should be one dimensional. It shouldn’t. It means that a good brand is focused on one key message and everything works to support that message. Most cringe at the idea of limiting their brand in any way, many simply refuse to do it. They falsely believe that the broader they make their brand the more people they will attract. What happens is the exact opposite – too broad, too bland, too boring attracts no one.
Strong Brand = Everyone gets it
We identify the thing that is most important about your business, most important to your users and strategically differentiates you. Examples of companies with clarity of message:
- Southwest airlines – low fares.
- Disney – family fun.
- Fed Ex – on time delivery.
Have a package that must get to California tomorrow? Federal Express has good prices, convenient drop-off boxes and it’s easy to use – but that is the icing on the cake. If it absolutely, positively needs to get there tomorrow you think “Fed Ex” because of that one thing the brand stands for – on time delivery.
We build a Core Message
Surrounding every great brand is a set of supporting characteristics that build the core message.
Southwest jets have a distinctive paint job, their employees are friendly and provide superior service, they provide safe pleasant travel, and their attitude is fun and down to earth. These things attract customers which mean full planes which enable low fares. Everything works together.
Southwest doesn’t water down their core message by adding in great service, cool looking planes, good snacks, friendly employees, clever commercials, and fun travel. Doing that would dilute the message, not build it. They understand that their customers are budget travelers and all elements of their product and marketing efforts must coalesce around the central unifying theme of low fares. One leads to another to create the ability for low fares.
The key to successful branding is to stand for one thing. Just one. Everything you do must come back to and suport your core branding message.