Branding – What Exactly Makes for a Successful Brand?

So what is it about a some brands that give them the edge. Is it because the product or service they promote is of a superior quality or represent value for money? It could be, but that wouldn’t explain why, for example, car manufacturers such as Skoda, Kia and Proton aren’t outselling, say, Audi, Toyota, BMW.Certainly, in the case of Skoda, the quality is there and who could disagree that the cost of a new Skoda represents value for money.Why is it that Nike can command a much higher price point for its products than others and yet still consistently outsell the competition? Ok, we’d probably all agree that Nike training shoes are quite nicely designed but do they really outperform the competition enough to justify the not inconsiderable premium on the price.The answer to both questions is simple. The success of a brand, it seems, is directly proportionate to its brand perception. Almost regardless of inherent product integrity, it’s the integrity of the brand that’s all important. A positive brand perception accounts for the majority of the decision to purchase so it should come as no surprise that the costs of marketing a particular product, in many cases, far out weigh the costs of manufacturing that product!A brand should fully integrate with all aspects of the marketing plan from print media, display and web through to packaging, advertising and new media applications.A well conceived brand with a dynamic marketing plan will not be held back.Where to beginWhen you spend time and money creating or re-vamping your corporate brand, the aim of the exercise must be for the new brand to be a success (especially if the new brand is being developed to replace what may be a tired but already tried and tested, existing identity).Successful branding inspires confidence in a company, its philosophy and its products or services. The impact a successful brand can have affects a range of interested parties, from employees to industry partners, regulators and even the competition.Of course whilst there is no truly accurate formula or method for predicting just how successful a proposed new brand will actually be, a well conceived, implemented and communicated corporate or product brand can only improve the perception of a company or product which, in return, will (or at least should) result in increased sales and a higher profile.As with most design disciplines, brand design certainly shouldn’t be left to chance.In truth even the naming of a company, or product, without serious consideration and professional consultation could be a step too far in the process if youĂ­re aiming for the best, optimised results.To achieve success the branding exercise needs to follow a development process that allows for……ResearchYou know what it’s like, you’ve had this great idea for your brand and the first thing you want to do is brief it in to your design agency as soon as possible so they can work up some concepts and get the ball rolling.But, now that you’ve started spending the budget, can you be completely sure that your “great idea” really is that great?Although the final decision may still be yours to make, researching your ideas prior to initialising any design input could save you (and the designers) both time and money with badly conceived, knee jerk brand concepts.In conjunction with your staff, partners or fellow directors (even clients or customers) try to perform some level of research into your business and design perceptions, products and services and markets to help define what exactly sets you apart from your competitors.Not only will this help you to decide how and where to position yourself in your market but it will also help you to identify and develop the overall brand perception you wish to project.It’s also worth noting that the influence the internet is likely to have on the sales and promotion of your new brand will be considerable. When developing a name or ID it is important that its ‘online’ application works as well as it does ‘off-line’. Clearly, the level of influence will vary from product to product and by target audience however Search Engine Optimisation and Search Marketing are increasingly becoming the key activities to the successful marketing of any brand and should be treated as a necessary part of the whole marketing concept from day one.Seeing is believingFor a brand to be truly successful it will need the undivided support and commitment of the leaders of the business. If the senior management team is seen to be committed to the brand principles then the workforce, shareholders and customers will also be better prepared to believe in the brand.With the full support of all interested parties it will be much easier to develop a more strategic marketing and communications plan that works for everyone.The planning of how you will promote your new brand, what you want to say and how you’re going to say it, are essential if you are to successfully convey the underlying brand values and how they will be communicated, measured and maintained.Keeping controlA successful branding strategy should ooze consistency from every orifice. Visual and verbal integrity is a must if the corporate message is to be clearly communicated at all times.But be aware, the level of control over your branding may be diminished relative to the increase of personnel and/or by the number of locations in which your business resides.This is why it is essential that some level of “brand management” contingency is put in place. Corporate identity and brand guidelines don’t have to be too extensive and all encompassing to have a beneficial and far reaching effect on the level brand consistency that is maintained. The cost for development of guidelines will, of course, vary with the required depth and complexity but the value of such a document will be self evident through the lack of brand dilution.This can be the simple, single page that outlines the ‘do’s and don’ts’ applicable to the company logo all the way up to the comprehensive Corporate Bible covering everything from the preferred type face to the colour of the carpet tiles in reception!Most importantly brand development, as the title suggests, should be an ongoing process and one which has the support of everyone involved with your business. If you have clearly defined principles, outlined in a simple message that reaches the people you need it to reach, and you can measure and monitor it for continued effectiveness, you will be on the way to corporate brand success.

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