Branding is the process of aligning the opinions people hold about your brand with the set of thoughts you want them to believe and trust. Apple has done an excellent job of branding its’ company and changing the rules along the way. Apple blew up the rules of branding because Steve Jobs simply didn’t follow the traditional rules, and he never did what he was supposed to do. He knew that someone else’s success wouldn’t be his own, because it’s a fact that imitating others has never resulted in great successes. It’s just great flattery.
The rules that criminal-law professor Annalise Keating tells her students to follow if they want to win a case on the hit TV show, How to get away with murder is: Discredit the witness. Find a new suspect. Bury the evidence. Through the television series there are several lessons learned by the student. In this article, we will take the same approach; so pay attention. At the end of the quarter, a grade will be given and it will be measured by the implementation of these rules and the success of your brand.
Trust the witness
Good branding starts with people aka your witness. People need reasons to buy or use, as humans we need to feel like we are a part of something bigger. Your brand need strong guiding principles at the very heart of everything you do. Consumers are armed with knowledge, education and technology and play a very active role on the course of brands. Lose connection with your witness and risk becoming irrelevant in your market. Too many companies are guilty of working organically, instinctively or ad hoc, with too little information about the customer. Research your customers, listen to them and trust that they want what they want, the way they want it and give it to them.
Be the only “suspect”
Research everything there is to know about your product and the market in which it will compete. Then find that niche. Find what makes you stand out from the rest and in the customers’ mind. Businesses with successful brands are focused. They have a definitive purpose and their values are clear.
Provide the evidence
You have to tell your brand story and make it compelling. The opening and closing arguments of every trial are just as important as the details in between. Give every audience, judge and jury, whether internal or external, a reason to believe. Content excellence’ is key to delivering stories that take on a life of their own through the consumer to the level that consumers actively participate in the story from the start. Define your brand by stating what it stands for, what unique benefit it provides, what value it promises to deliver, and the image that will penetrate everything from your marketing communications to your product design, and consumer experience. “People do business with people they know, like, and trust!”
Tell everyone and leave evidence everywhere
First you have to have something meaningful to say that resonates with the consumer. Then, communicate that through everything that you do, as a brand and as a business. It is your fingerprint, your mark on the world. It is what makes your product unique and interesting. Next you have to shout it loud! Launch your brand; announce it via publicity, social-media advertising, promotions, and presentations. Remember to always network with complementary brands, especially those that share your values and core client base. No business can be successful in a bubble, so create a community of support and advocacy in your industry and target market. Do everything in your power to create influence for your brand. When appropriate, solicit relevant celebrity or cause endorsements. Connect your brand and business to activities that will raise your brand profile and exposure in the community and in the world. Your brand is a promise that must be reinforced every time people come in contact with any facet of your business.
Be willing to create innovative strategies. Take a risk and try something no one has done before. If you win you will be happy; if you lose you will be wise. No one has ever achieved greatness by doing nothing and greatness usually takes more than one try.
Don’t change your habits
Consistency constantly. Consistency builds brands, so every encounter with your brand — whether with your staff, product, website, marketing communications, news coverage, social media, or other any other form of brand encounter or experience — must consistently convey your brand promise and contribute to your desired brand identity. The pleasure of recognizing a logo and its promise delivered makes it satisfactory for both the brand and the consumer…
Remember the little things
When you are on the witness stand and be cross examined your story can’t change. It’s the little details that give the story life and help it stay on track. Your brand must accurately reflect the core beliefs of your business, your leadership, and all who deliver your brand experience to consumers. It’s the “why” you do what you do, as opposed to the “what” you do.
Be ready to abandon everything
Do things better or, better yet, uniquely. Branding does not always follow a clearly defined path, sometimes brands need to walk along with consumers to find its own destination. If your story sounds common or borrowed, or if it feels idealized, like it belongs in a movie that no one wants to see again, abandon it and start again. Strive for an authentic voice. Look for opportunity for change and revolution, outside the borders of reason, financial sense, or cynics.