What makes a perfect brand?
Why do we even need a perfect brand?
Frankly, what is a brand?
These are a series of debates that have raged for decades, and I won’t be the first to address it and this is my opinion, this is what matters to us when we think about brand and I think that’s very relevant for small to medium businesses, but I think enterprise has got a lot to learn. That’s a bit arrogant perhaps but I’m confident that after 20 plus years of being in this business, I’m confident of what I know. So I hope this is of value.
For us a brand has to be a coherent, consistent, representation of your business in whatever medium it is that your customers look at it; visually, audibly, verbally, textually, on every level.
To be honest I saw a brand recently that had patented a smell – amazing! When you go in their shop, they have a smell and wherever you go in the world into their shop, you will recognise and identify that smell.
So a brand encompasses all of the senses and beyond.
Why does it matter?
Well, if you don’t have a consistent brand, your customers will slowly over time lose confidence because consistency is what builds brands. If a McDonald’s hamburger was different every time you went and bought it, you’d have less confidence and McDonald’s ability to supply you the hamburger.
If every bottle of coke tasted differently, you would feel less comfortable about buying a coke because you wouldn’t know what flavour you were gonna get.
Those are two very obvious examples, but through everything we do you’re consistent ability to serve your customer is personified in your brand, and your brand speaks to those values, to that service, to everything you do for your clients and your customers and prospects.
So here’s how we build a brand.
We use a methodology that I’ve worked out after 20 odd years called the brand pyramid. The brand pyramid is essential for us to work with clients, if a client doesn’t have a brand pyramid we know it’s going to be a struggle and the outcome is going to be less optimal.
So we really really work hard to encourage our customers to focus on the pyramids.
When we say that to them, we need you to focus on building a brand pyramid, you kind of get the eye-roll ‘Oh it’s marketing speak, its BS’ Let me explain it to you, because it actually makes a lot of sense.
There are five elements to a brand pyramid; there is the brand name itself, there is the strap line, there is the USP, the wow and ultimately the content core.
Those five pieces are the core of the brand upon which everything is built.
Life without it becomes reactive, inconsistent, it means the business and everyone in it and even the customers focus inwards to the business, rather than outwards to the customer. And a strong and healthy brand pyramid allows a business to focus outwards on the customer rather than on themselves.
So let’s just break down those elements.
What do we mean by a brand?
Well a brand name obviously that’s the name of the company and it has to do a great job of being the flagship element of both the pyramid in that brand, it is the pinnacle to which all else builds.
The strap-line works very closely in tandem with the brand for us. You can’t have two aspirational pieces of brand and strap-line. You can’t have a woolly brand and a woolly strap-line and likewise you can’t have a very black-and-white or scientific or Ronseal you know ‘It does what it says on the tin’ strap line and brand either.
For us you have to have one aspirational piece and one Ronseal piece.
You have to have yin and yang, they have to balance each other.
So for example, Ronseal is a great example, Ronseal in and of itself, if you don’t know what it is you’d never guess. You might imagine it’s something to do with something that seals something or a chap called Ron – who knows.
But when I say to you ‘It does what it says on the tin’ you automatically realise it’s in a tin, it’s probably something to do with decoration, it’s nothing to do with food, that’s what else comes in a tin. And so we’ve got something aspirational in the word Ronseal and we’ve got something very black-and-white in the ‘It does what it says on the tin’
Now actually that’s a bit of a cheeky example because you then have to read the tin or you have to look up what it says on the tin. But actually it’s quite clever marketing in and of itself. If you don’t know what Ronseal is, I bet you want to know.
So the brand and the strap-line have to work in harmony.
The USP is super important.
Now one of the biggest problems with USPs is most of the time the USP (unique sales proposition) isn’t unique at all.
The amount of times we speak to customers and they tell us their USP is they believe in value for money or they’re committed to customer service or they love helping their clients sleep at night.To be honest I’m never surprised when I hear it, but that’s not a USP. There’s nothing unique about that.
There isn’t a business in the world that wants to cost clients more money, give them less sleep and deliver less value, of course, wants to serve them less.
What company would live on those kind of values?
So the answer is with the USP it truly has to be unique. You have to really dig deep to find out what matters to the business, what’s really powerful?
Beyond the USP you have the wow.
The wow has to create an emotional connection. For us the test of a strong wow – is did the hairs on the back of our neck go up?
Why do you sense Humanity in us?
Why would you work with us?
Because if myself and a competitor where in a lift with you and you had one opportunity to work with one of us – what’s going to make you choose me?
It’s not the fact that I’ve got a slightly better piece of kit. It’s not the fact that I’ve got slightly more reviews on LinkedIn. None of those things really ultimately matter in the final reckoning.
People buy from people, humans buy from humans and so it’s my humanity and my ability to authentically establish my humanity that’s gonna endear you to you, and it’s going to hopefully put you in a position where you can see yourself working with me.
Where you want to work with me.
After we’ve got the brand, the strap-line, the USP and the wow…
The final element is the content core.
The content core are three buckets of content under which all other content is going to fit.
One of the biggest problems with brands that I see, is they are so disparate in what they talk about and the content they cover. You can’t be known for everything or anything or something, you have to be known for one thing.
Ultimately, Nick James says this very well, lots of other people say it very well – you have to niche, you have to be specific, you have to focus, you have to give your customers and prospects a small amount of hooks to position you on. If you don’t do that, then people will talk about in the context of ‘I’m not really sure what they do, I’m not really sure what they do.’
So that’s really for us what makes a perfect brand.
There’ll be a follow-up piece to this blog where we’ll talk through how we build it, so keep an eye on our social platforms. We hope that your brand is going to improve because of it and if you need to talk about your brand pyramid, get in touch.