Now that you know and understand the branding essentials, it’s time to step back and start looking at the bigger picture. Creating a powerful brand is only the beginning of your journey to develop a strong corporate image for your business.

The fundamentals you’ve already learned are the first step towards building a foundation for your brand. However, they will only take you so far without the proper strategy to round out your efforts.

When you think of branding, it’s important to consider it as an ongoing process instead of a “one-and-done” situation. It’s not uncommon for brands to evolve as they grow and form a better perception of what the audience likes and dislikes about it.

The most successful brands are not those that find what works and stick to their guns no matter what. Instead, the best companies can fine-tune and continue to hone their brands to find the right balance and integrate the insights they’re visualizing.

Before we get into these standout brands, let’s examine what the most successful brands do to stay on top.

“The goal is not just to be recognizable,
but to be so closely identified with your company’s defining
characteristic that you become known for it.

The Hallmarks of a Successful Brand

All the top companies in the world have parlayed successful branding strategies into sales and profits. Here are some of the things they do right:

Have a Clear Identity

A brand is more than a marketing tool; it’s the way the world perceives your company. More than just using it to sell things, the most successful brands create a powerful and defined identity for their companies.

The goal is not just to be recognizable, but to be so closely identified with your company’s defining characteristic that you become known for it. More importantly, your objective in crafting an identity is to define what sets you apart from competitors.

Best Example—Apple: In the 1980s, Apple was known for bringing the first personal computer to the masses. After an extended down period to end the decade and start the 1990s, the company reinvented itself. No longer just a computer company, Apple pivoted its brand into luxury and innovation.

With the introduction of products like the iMac, iPod, and later the iPhone, the company ushered in a new brand identity: they were innovators who instantly brought anyone who bought their products a luxurious lifestyle. Even now, Apple likes to set itself apart from its competition with its “Think Different” company motto.

Focus on the Audience

In the rush to create something that looks cool or unique, many times it’s easy to forget who brands are for. While it’s great that your team thinks your brand looks great, the stakeholders your brand needs to focus on is your target audience. It’s important to develop a brand you’re proud of and are invested in, but if it doesn’t connect with the consumers you’re attempting to convert, it may all be for naught.

Brands must always reflect their target market. Apple has succeeded because it knows which buttons to push, and which pain points to target in their customer base. Forming important insights about your audience will greatly inform how your brand ends up appearing.

Best Example—Whole Foods: The organic grocery store mega-chain has created a “healthy living” brand that always stays on message and is clearly targeted toward their audience. From fun advertisements that always feature active people on the go, to their self-branded products that push the healthy and organic aspects, the company always knows who they’re speaking to.

By keeping this in mind, their branding efforts are largely successful. Their efforts have helped foster a loyal and dedicated clientele that will always splurge for products with their tag on them.

Always be Consistent

One aspect that is often overlooked during branding and consumer feedback processes is consistency. Some companies may panic when they hear that a marketing campaign or branding strategy didn’t land well. In a rush to “fix” things, they may go back to the drawing board and decide they need something entirely new.

While fine-tuning and constantly evolving is important, the only way consumers remember your company is if they have a clear point of reference.

By staying on message, even as your specific campaigns change, and keeping consistent branding in design, color choices, language, and tone, your brand will start to become associated with these individual characteristics. No matter what a specific campaign is saying, your brand will always shine through.

Best Example—McDonald’s: It’s impossible to miss McDonald’s branding anywhere. No matter where in the world you are, the golden arches have become synonymous with fast-food and the friendly clown who represents them.

McDonald’s has kept the logo unchanged since 1962, despite a slew of different slogans, marketing campaigns, and store redesigns. However, the company’s brand has come to be clearly expressed in a simple logo – quality fast food and good service.

Keep Your Promises

Your brand explains your company’s activities and goals to consumers. More than just logos, your advertising, marketing, and even slogans will tell customers about your company and what it represents.

One of the surest ways to lose customers is to break promises or appear dishonest. The most successful brands pick their message and make promises carefully, aware that they are always able to keep them.

If you are guaranteeing something and staking your brand’s reputation on it, breaking your audience’s trust will do more damage than any physical loss could. Consumers can be fickle and rebuilding a company’s image is both expensive and difficult. Always stay on message and always deliver on your promises.

Best Example—FedEx: One of the key selling points of FedEx’s brand is that they understand consumers. More than just boxes and dollar signs, they see their customers as people who are entrusting them with their keepsakes, valuables, and important documents.

The company goes to great lengths to connect to their audience, making themselves available on social media, offering extensive customer support, and having physical locations staffed with well-trained agents.

By keeping their word, FedEx engenders trust and makes sure customers always know they are a reliable service provider.

Now that you have cultivated a keener understanding of these key strategies, it’s time to focus on the most important part of your brand: your customers. Keep reading on to Chapter 4 to discover what your audience wants and how your brand can meet their demands.

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