Brand Strategy Guide
3. Focus & Differentiation
The Big Idea or “What is the essence of your brand?”A brand is a collection of thoughts and feelings based on your experiences. Thoughts and feelings are “intangibles” while your products and services are “tangible”. Tangibles you can touch, see, smell, hear, and taste, but intagibles you just feel.
- Riding a Harley-Davidson Motorcyle feels liberating.
- Sending and important package via FedEx feels safe.
- Experiencing Disney World with your children feels magical.
- Think Different (Apple)
- Expect more. Pay less. (Target)
- The world’s online marketplace. (eBay)
- Adding vitality to life. (Unilever)
- Safety. (Volvo)
- The world on time. (FedEx)
- Rider Passion. (Harley Davidson)
- Make People Happy. (Disney)
- Live without a plan. (Virgin Mobile)
- Imagination at work. (GE)
- People against dirty. (Method)
- Happiness in a bottle. (Coca-Cola)
Brand Attributes or “What does your brand look and feel like?”Really, brand attributes are just adjectives used to describe your brand. For example, IBM is seen as “older,” while Apple is perceived as “younger.” Apple is almost known entirely for its brand personality: innovative, stylish, intuitive, cool, casual, easy-going and friendly. Defining your brand attributes is important to help you differentiate yourself from competitors, as you would want to focus on those attributes that help you stick out. They also help make sure that your activities are inline with your brand. Together this group of adjectives gives you something to evaluate things like messaging and the look and feel of touchpoints. Lastly, they help someone like a designer develop solutions for you that will fit with the personality of your brand. There a few ways to help you arrive at your brand attributes:
Here are some common opposites that you can pick from:
Here are three analogies that make it easier to visualize attributes:
The Car Analogy
If your company was a car what kind of car would it be? Get specific, define the year, make, model, color, etc. Is it a coupe or sedan? Import or domestic? Convertible? What kinds of bells and whistles does it have?
The Celebrity Analogy
If your company was a famous celebrity, who would it be and why? An Actor? or Sports Icon? What traits do they have that are shared with your company?
Here’a how imagining your brand as a person can be helpful:
If your company could choose anyone as its spokesperson who would it be? why? Someone from your local community? An historical figure? A fictional character from a book?
Tips:Try to avoid the generic (e.g. warm, friendly), and go for what is most unique about your company. Pay special attention to any gaps in your brand around these personality traits. When people come across a brand with an inconsistent personality, it undermines their sense of trust because they can’t exactly tell what the brand stands for. The personality your brand has today might be wrong for your target audience or vice-versa. Once you get an accurate picture of who you are now you can determine how to shift into where you want to be.
Brand Promise or “What are you going to do for me.”A brand promise is what the company promises to the people who interact with it. But it isn’t a literal description of what a company does. It’s a description of the company’s character. It’s the feeling the company conveys to its stakeholders. Two restaurants may have substantially similar menus, but they provide different atmospheres, different associations, and different customer experiences based on their brand promises. A brand promise can be explicitly articulated to the public, or it can be come to life more subtly in the delivery of the brand experience. A few years ago, FedEx declared that it was the only choice “when it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”—an overt promise that still resonates today. The ultimate goal of branding is loyalty. A loyal audience seeks repeat brand experiences and recommends the brand to others. Brand Loyalty drives most purchasing decisions and loyal customers are willing to pay a premium for their choice. Branding is defining, promising and delivering. When you promise and then consistently deliver you generate loyalty.
- Your package will get there overnight. Guaranteed. (FedEx)
- You can own the coolest, easiest-to-use cutting-edge computers and electronics. (Apple)
- You can hire the best minds in management consulting. (McKinsey & Company)
- Empowering you to save the wilderness. (The Nature Conservancy)
- To be the premier sports and entertainment brand that brings people together, connecting them socially and emotionally like no other. (NFL)
- To be genuine, fun, contemporary, and different in everything we do at a reasonable price. (Virgin)