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How to Develop a Strong Brand

posted May 29, 2013, 8:57 AM by   [ updated Jun 5, 2013, 9:53 AM ]
Developing a strong brand is important and can dramatically impact your success.

    Your brand is the unique design, sign, symbol, and/or words that create an image or impression of your product(s), service(s) and/or company. A strong brand differentiates your product or service from your competitors, and is easily recognized by customers in your market.

    Think about Starbucks...Their coffee is not the most affordable in the market, but their brand recognition and loyalty is off the charts. They have a wide-spread reputation for delicious, strong coffee that many people refuse to do without.

    Disney is global mega brand. Show a child a black round circle with two round black ears and the screams of "Mickey, Mickey!" will leave you temporarily deaf. Not only is the image recognizable, but it's is associated with fun and happiness. Below are three surefire strategies you can use:

1. Create a New Product and Constantly Innovate it

    Apple's introduction of the iPhone is a classic example of this strategy. While cell phones had been in the market for years, Apple introduced a new sleek design and took the cell phone into the realm of smart phones. Instead of just phone and camera, Apple popularized having music on your phone and later led in the development and release of mobile applications This strategy caused Nokia's market share to drop precipitously.

Not only did Apple innovate with the initial introduction of the iPhone, but the company keeps the product fresh by releasing updated models every 2 years or so.

    Puma is also adapting this method by constantly introducing new sports products to the market. The company does this to continue building its reputation as the most desirable sport lifestyle brand.

    By creating a new, unique product and constantly updating it, you will build a strong brand. And you will stay top-of-mind for customers since they will always be curious as to what they can expect from you next.

2. Using a New Campaign To Change a Brand's Image

    As second branding strategy is to use a new marketing campaign to change your brand image. One example of this is the Dove soap campaign introducing "Real Beauty" in 2011. The concept is that women have real beauty and Dove can help them realize it. 

    This type of campaign can also be called "rebranding." You use an old product, repackage it, and possibly change its logo too. Your purpose is to change the product's identity and reputation in the view of consumers.

    You can also use rebranding to overcome a period of poor publicity. For instance, if your company has been involved in public malpractice litigation, rebranding can help you get rid of negative connotations that may be hurting your sales.

    Rebranding can be a powerful tool in helping you differentiate your product from competitors. Think of special stitching and serial numbers high-end purse manufacturers use to differentiate their products from cheaper knock-offs. When you make your product distinguishable, you can gain more customers.

    Lastly, when your product has been in the market for a long time, curiosity and interest from customers may lessen. Rebranding can help you regain excitement in the marketplace and recapture market share. Intrigued customers want to try whatever is new in your product.

3. Advertise While Keeping Up with the Brand Value and Promise

    Being seen on television and other advertising channels can do wonders for most products and services. Sometimes, despite being more expensive than other brands, consumers still buy products with which they are more familiar. This is true of the brand Tide. There are laundry detergents that are less expensive, but many customers still buy Tide. Because they hear about Tide frequently, it is top of mind when consumers are shopping. 

    Still, Tide has to keep up with its promise of being a great laundry detergent. If consumers experienced poor results, they wouldn't buy Tide again despite millions of dollars of advertising. The product must do what your advertising said it would.

    It is also important to make sure your advertising, whether local or national, is reaching your target audience. Remember the Chrysler Pacifica? Its okay if you don't; they don't even make the Pacifica minivan anymore.

    In 2004, despite warnings from their advertising consultants, Chrysler contracted Celine Dion for $10 million to promote the new Pacifica. The campaign was a disaster. The Pacifica appealed to young professionals, yet Celine Dion resonated with an older age group. The result? Nothing. Flat sales with millions of dollars out the driver's window. Know your target market!

Applying the Strategies

    While many of the examples I used are from well known large companies, any business owner, even a one person operation can use the strategies listed above.

    And importantly, you don't have to spend a fortune on this. With social media tools like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, you can create videos and photos that can spread your brand message quickly, inexpensively and with amazing effectiveness.

    So focus on building your brand, because the right brand will bring in tons of new customers and dramatically increase the value of your company.