HOW TO: Build a Brand in 3 Steps

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Posted Aug 31, 2011
Susan Gunelius

So you want to build a brand. You’re not alone. Every day individuals and businesses of all sizes launch new brands or decide to change their existing brands dramatically or minimally. No matter what stage you are in developing your own brand, you need to continually follow the three primary steps to build a brand.

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In other words, the process to build a brand never ends. The day you think you’ve succeeded and built your brand fully is the day you should prepare to watch your business decline. Brand building is an ongoing process that should always be a core focus of your business, because a powerful brand can support a business through any macro-environmental factor that comes along.

When you build a brand, you’re building long-term, sustainable, organic growth. While there is no spot on the balance sheet for “brand,” brand value is an asset that every business should work continually to build.

Remember the Tylenol cyanide poisoning scandal of 1982? Without strong brand value, the Tylenol brand may not have survived, but in the end, Johnson & Johnson and Tylenol came out of the scandal with even better brand perception than before the scandal.

A more recent example is the series of recalls the Toyota brand faced in 2010. The brand that promised quality was failing to keep its promise. However, the brand held so much value in consumers’ eyes that it not only lived through those bumps in the road but is still considered to be one of the most trusted and valued brands in the world.Therefore, the three primary steps to build a brand should be integrated into every part of your business. Those three steps are:

1. Consistency

Powerful brands develop as people begin to believe the brand promise based on their experiences with that brand. Those experiences develop into perceptions and expectations. If your brand doesn’t meet consumer expectations in every customer interaction, they’ll become confused and turn away from your brand in search of one that does meet their expectations in every interaction. Don’t let them get away! Use your brand identity guidelines to ensure your brand is always presented in a consistent manner.

2. Persistence

Brands aren’t built overnight. To build a brand, you need to be patient and don’t give up. Continually put out messages and brand experiences that consistently communicate and support your brand promise. This is how you develop brand awareness, recall, purchase intent, loyalty, and advocacy. Entertainment brands provide excellent examples for persistence in brand building. For the Hollywood crowd, any day that a celebrity isn’t in the news is a step closer to being out of the business. Celebrities are trained to stay top-of-mind or they’ll lose their relevancy, their popularity, and ultimately, their incomes. There is a reason why the Kardashians, the cast of the Jersey Shore, and Justin Bieber are everywhere -- persistence in brand building.

3. Restraint

It can be tempting to extend your brand into new markets, product lines, and regions when the potential to make more money dangles in front of you like a carrot on a stick. However, everything your business does must consistently communicate and represent your brand promise. Therefore, you must exercise restraint. There is a reason why Trump Steaks (pictured above) were not a hit. They didn’t match the Trump brand promise and confused consumers. If you don’t exercise restraint, you could do more harm to your brand and business than good. Don’t give into temptation without thoroughly analyzing opportunities to ensure they are an appropriate fit for your brand.

As a refresher, be sure to read my What is a Brand? and How to Brand series here on the AYTM blog. As you read those articles, keep these three primary steps to build a brand in mind because they should be a part of everything you do in your business.
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