The importance of your brand

Viki Harris, managing partner at JansenHarris, explains why your business’s brand is an essential component for long-term success
The importance of your brand
By Viki Harris
Wed 15 Jul 2015 10:24 AM

Society today is exposed to thousands of brands all day, every day.

From the litany of cosmetic products lining your bathroom vanity, to the contents of your refrigerator, we are exposed. And we often don’t realise the impact these brands have on our lives.

For example, as a mother of two year old twins, the founding partner of a busy branding agency and a wife, all I’m thinking about when racing around the store trying to get my groceries done in under 10 minutes is: I hope they have my brand of toothpaste in.

Without a conscious thought, these everyday, ‘mundane’ brands hold our loyalty.

So what is a brand?

Sounds like a simple question, but the first thing to remember and understand is that your logo is not your brand. It’s simply part of it.

Your brand is your DNA, it’s who you are, what you believe in and what you represent. It’s the reputation of a company, a person, a product or a service.

As customers, we buy into the experiences associated with the products and services we purchase. So if your brand is built, managed and nurtured correctly, it will generate a superior return on investment compared to its competitor set.

Having spent the past 15 years immersed in the branding industry, one element has always stood out as an essential ingredient in building a strong and durable brand: Strategy + creativity + fulfilment = branding.

Here’s an interesting fact. A large share of Coca-Cola’s capitalisation is accounted for by its intangible assets, i.e. mainly its brand. If its market capitalisation is $165 billion, its book value excluding goodwill is $16.2 billion. This is less than 10 percent of the total, concluding that as much as 90 percent of Coca-Cola’s value is intangible and derived from the brand.

Consider the current top 10 brands listed on Forbes. The likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Facebook. These companies are clearly positioned in the market and have a strong story. Whether this story has grown and developed over years of exposure or sprung up overnight, the overall brand positioning has remained clear and focused. Successful brands take years to build value in the eyes of the consumer. There is no such thing as a ‘quick brand’. It simply does not exist.

Why is strategy important?

Dubai is an entrepreneur’s paradise full of new ideas, products and services and yet we see so many well intentioned concepts fail to capture audiences due to lack of a clear idea or focused strategy.

The goal is to instill trust in your consumers/clients. Remember that you are building a promise and a reputation, so a strong brand positioning can effectively remove purchase decisions at point of sale and give you a competitive advantage.

As the world continues to move online, there is no longer such a thing as one bad experience. Any bad experience quickly becomes a talking point between millions of online users and within minutes your brand’s reputation could lie in tatters.

This is easily avoided by ensuring you have a strong and clear brand strategy in place. You, and your employees, need to know and fully understand your story, so make it a good one. Make it original.

Spend time upfront getting to know your competitors and your customers. Immerse yourself in your industry, find out what your customers want, and meet their needs. Understand how they want to be treated and always deliver on your promises.

A brand’s job is a complex one. It has to be memorable, connect with your clients, be motivating, and always create loyalty. Popular and long lasting brands ensure they make a personal connection with their customers, which helps to retain a lifetime of loyalty.

Develop, evolve and conquer

It is also important to remember that your brand does not end with a business card or website. Your staff are key brand ambassadors and should be well trained and aligned with your brand positioning and overall company strategy. This will help them engage with your customers and build new brand ambassadors.

How do your staff speak to your customers? Are they living the values you have associated with your brand? Or do they ignore customers and leave your phone unanswered? All these, and more, are essential elements to consider.

Another key element is consistency. Your brand has to be consistent across all your touch-points. By this, I mean everything your client, customer and employee comes into contact with.

Also, establish a tone of voice for your brand so your customers start to recognise you from a headline or copy style. Or maybe the way you treat your photography becomes synonymous with your product. Whichever way you choose to go, ensure it is always consistent.

Customers today are inundated with choice and use brands as a means to find their way through the quagmire. When your brand has a strong and clear positioning, its relevance becomes apparent and it will hold a stronger position in the customer’s mind.

To brand or not to brand

You may not have thought about this, but can you imagine a world without brands?

Without brands, the marketplace would be overwhelming and extremely confusing. For example, a car would simply be a car. There would be nothing to differentiate between differences in speed, comfort or price. And that toothpaste I’m so loyal too would simply be toothpaste.

Imagine having to purchase something you know nothing about? You can quickly see how it would become an ordeal, and making a repurchase would be next to impossible.

Brands provide a method of identification, differentiation and classification. You need to make sure your brand stands out, and over time the consistent manner in which your product or service interacts with your client will ensure recognition, memory, positive experience and repurchase.

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