Is the ability to create strong brands an art or a science?
While certain strategies and principles are effective, brands are truly relationships with the public, which is an art in and of itself. I discussed the art and science of effective branding with several brand consultants and business owners to get their thoughts. They shared five characteristics you're likely to see in strong brands.
Strong Brands Have Authentic Personalities
"Strong brands have authentic, genuine and well-developed 'personalities,'" says Towan Isom, the president and CEO of Isom Global Strategies, a Washington, DC based, award-winning full-service strategic marketing and management firm.
Personalities have multiple components or elements, such as colors, services and tone of voice. However, in strong brands, all those traits often work together to convey one message about the “who" of the business.
For example, while a resort may exude “luxury," they may showcase an equestrian personality because of the owner's family traditions and affinities for horse riding. From the family photos, to the daughter's equestrian awards in the dining facilities, to the water-colored artwork of horses, visitors to the resort would get a distinct feeling that the owner's affection and personality were sincerely reflected throughout the business.
Strong Brands Are Consistent
Consistency often equals trust, which is a hallmark of many strong brands.
Developing consistent and genuinely helpful services is imperative, says Sherron Washington, the CEO of The P3 Solution, a marketing and communications firm. “The absence of consistency…can hinder the ability to communicate an intended identity, which leads to ineffective branding," Washington says. "Remember, good branding differentiates you from your competitors, but great branding singles you out!"
Case in point: My fiancée and I are regulars at a well-known resort and the winery down the road for one primary reason—we trust them. We trust that the businesses will give us the same experiences and service each time we visit.
Strong Brands Focus on Their Niche
As a business consultant, I am constantly discouraging the “jack of all trades, master of none" business mentality. Not only can you come across as inauthentic and generic (which can ultimately hurt your brand), but most customers love to know that you understand their unique likes and interests. They want to know that you sincerely share those values.
When you know who you are, you will attract “kindred spirits" to the brand. And while you may not capture every potential customer in North America, your brand will be strengthened as a result of the real relationships it fostered.
Strong Brands Reflect The Communities They Serve
I believe that strong brands are those that capture the essence and loyalty of the community they serve. Moreover, I think that brands that value service in thought and deed will knock it out of the park with that community.
Devotion to people and enriching the lives of the community through a business is a goal you often see in the most successful brands. While “giving back" is not essential to success, those owners who organically adopt a service mindset embody gratitude for their clients. And gratitude for your guests is a strong, sincere way to engender brand—and business, loyalty.
Strong Brands Create Excellent Products and Services
As business owners, sometimes we fall short on delivering excellence. However, when we convey our sincere intention to strive for excellence through our communications, training and consistency, our customers often appreciate that effort.
And on the occasion we don't deliver, strong brands are often given the benefit of the doubt. That's because they have developed relationships and goodwill that afford them the understanding of and compassion for human error. Good intentions, coupled with strong follow-through, are very present in the most enduring brands.
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