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The following is a complete guide to branding in 2020. If you’re looking for some exciting, fresh ideas, you’re in the right place.

Chapter 1 – the Basics of Branding

In order to understand branding fundamentals, you first need to understand what a brand is.

What’s a Brand?

A brand is a trait or unique feature that establishes a differentiation between different organizations. A brand is the feeling and quality of experience customers have when dealing with a company in any capacity. It is usually made up of elements such as logos, visual designs, tone, voice, taglines and more.

What Is Branding?

Branding is a marketing process that develops a brand by using different elements like logos, color schemes, values and more to positively influence customers. Branding helps audiences distinguish a brand and gives them good reason to use their services over the competition’s.

A modern billboard.Why Is Branding Important?

Branding draws clear differences between your company and competitors. A recognizable, trustworthy brand is an important catalyst for strong campaigns, customer loyalty and showing authority.

A brand is an asset in and of itself. It drives your marketing, creates passionate customers and boosts recognition.

The following is a list of some of the key ways branding empowers organizations:

  • Supercharges marketing campaigns. Branding is one of the main driving forces behind every new marketing campaign and project. As branding improves, so does each new initiative.
  • Increases team member involvement. Powerful branding attracts quality job applicants and strengthens team harmony. Give your teams something to be a part of and proud of and they’ll respond positively.
  • Guides consumer spending. People often disregard things like quality and price in favor of brands. There’s a reason you see so many Macbooks despite a higher price tag than similar laptops from competitors.
  • Creates or builds upon a company persona. Branding is a way to mold the face of your company. This gives consumers a personalized connection that they can trust.

Now that you have the basics of branding down, and you understand why it’s so important, let’s dive into the different ways you can improve your branding.

Chapter 2 – Brand Management

Once we have a brand in place, we need to make adjustments and maintain it. That’s where brand management comes into the equation.

Brand management is a way to improve a company’s unique products and services, as well as their brand perception. It can affect pricing practices, improve customer loyalty and further overall brand awareness.

Effective brand management increases brand awareness, creates customer loyalty and boosts customer advocacy.

Brand management is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires extensive evaluation and constant evolution in order to be successful. Here are some ideas to improve your brand management.

1. Create, Evaluate and Use a Unique Selling Proposition

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is one of the biggest chances you’ll get to stand out from your competition. Chances are your product or service is similar in many ways to most competitors. A USP informs consumers that it’s completely different.

One of my favorite examples of a USP is Tivo’s ‘TV Your Way’ slogan. This simple USP let consumers know that watching TV around a schedule was a thing of the past, since Tivo allowed recording of live television digitally.

To create your own USP, determine the ways in which your product or service is different. Then, come up with a catchy way to express this differentiation.

2. Take Inventory of Your Brand Assets

Brand assets are highly important and require specific attention. Make sure you have a firm grasp of how your brand assets are currently performing. The following are some crucial assets to consider:

Visual elements. Your specific visuals, such as logos, color schemes, layouts and images are assets. In fact, they’re quite powerful when used correctly. Consider how valuable it can be to slap a popular logo onto a product – sales typically follow. Keep this in mind when crafting and making changes to your visual elements.

Messaging. Brand messaging is how you describe the unique features of your brand. It focuses on the brand’s core values.

Messaging is such an important asset because of how it affects consumers. As your tone and messaging become familiar to your target audience, each new campaign will be that much more effective.

3. Put a Plan Into Place

Planning is a crucial component of brand management. Make sure you’ve put together a detailed layout of how you want to tackle things like evaluation, organization and technology. A plan may also outline the decision to outsource brand management tasks.

Workers creating a plan on a whiteboard.Whatever your ideal process is, make sure it’s laid out clearly for all to see. When it comes to evaluation, keep a running list of brand elements and change it when necessary.

When considering technology, look for tools that supplement your most important brand management processes. For example, a brand style guide is an effective way to keep your organization’s standards in place.

An underrated aspect of planning is the communication and re-evaluation involved. Be sure to inform necessary team members throughout the process. Schedule future evaluations of your plans to adjust for all potential changes.

Now that you have some ideas for how to manage your brand, let’s take a look at a way to stand out – brand identity.

Chapter 3 – Brand Identity

Let’s consider for a moment how we want our audience to view our brand. If our company had its own personality, what would it be?

A brand identity is the way we present ourselves, as a business, to consumers. This is done through brand values and messaging. Brand identity is created through visual elements such as logos and fonts, which help present a personality to consumers.

A person with a bag over their head.A strong brand identity gives our target market the right ideas about our brand. It helps demonstrate that we are unique and exciting with a personality they can relate to.

So how do we create our own successful brand identity? Here are a few key hints to get you started.

1. Review Competitors

If Pepsi presented itself as a healthy choice for cola consumption, and its sales skyrocketed, Coca-Cola would likely follow suit.

Researching the competition to see how others succeeded is a necessity to stay relevant and get ahead.

That isn’t to say that you should be copying successful brands and molding your identity to mimic theirs. Rather, it’s a way to see the ways in which they’ve built a solid brand and come up with your own path to that end result.

When researching competing brands, some key factors to consider are how did they influence brand perception, what kind of visual elements did they use and what were the circumstances surrounding their decisions?

Answer these questions and you’ll be able to pinpoint a way to create your own successful identity.

2. Maintain Tone

Part of brand identity is portraying your brand as something, whether it be with certain personality or character traits.

Dodge trucks are presented with a hard, tough tone. Apple products are advertised using modern, creative language. In what way does your tone determine your identity?

Whatever it may be, it has to be maintained throughout each new project and campaign. There is always room for changes and innovative new ideas that result in a new tone. However, this is rare and should be carefully examined before implementing.

Ultimately, you don’t want to confuse your target market. If your tone is one of fierce, extreme demeanor in one advertisement, the following ad shouldn’t be a soft, fluffy tone.

3. Make Necessary Changes

It’s difficult to present the exact same brand identity over extended periods of time. The reality is the world we live in changes quickly. Words, concepts and images lose their meaning and become completely different.

The only way for our identity to be successful throughout these changes is through calculated adaptations.

Phillips ran a noticeable campaign in the late 90s that used a Beatles song ‘Getting Better’ as their brief jingle to coincide with their slogan. Just as disco died, so did rock music, in favor of electronic or rap. Similarly, Phillips no longer used a rock song as their jingle.

If your brand identity is working flawlessly and sending the right message, that’s great, but remember that tomorrow, it could be ‘dead’ or have a completely new meaning, so be prepared to adapt.

Behind all the fancy logos and catchy jingles is the identity you put forth. If it doesn’t reach its intended audience and make a real connection, it’s all for naught. Make sure you do your research to make sure it does.

Now that you’re putting forth an identity that represents your brand, let’s focus on staying consistent.

Chapter 4 – Brand Consistency

Once you’ve built the foundations of your brand, it’s time to focus on the importance of being brand consistent.

Brand consistency is the methodology and structure in place to guarantee messaging and other elements stay true to original brand values and ideals. Brand consistency gives your target market a chance to familiarize and connect to your brand, since it’s constantly delivering the right message to them.

A digital revenue chart.
A visual graph of the success consistent brands enjoy.

Staying consistent increases overall credibility, satisfies customer expectations, builds loyalty and simplifies marketing tasks.

Here are some key ways to maintain consistency:

1. Make Sure All Teams Are Involved

Your brand will only be as consistent as the teams who build projects and campaigns using branded materials and assets.

It’s one thing to make sure all authorized parties are granted access to important branded materials. It’s another to ensure they’re used correctly and by everyone who represents the brand.

One way to accomplish this is by adding a system of tests or quick audits. For example, each campaign should be reviewed explicitly for any brand inconsistencies.

2. Develop and Maintain Brand Guidelines

It’s a lot easier for teams to stay consistent throughout each project if they’ve been given solid brand guidelines that get updated from time-to-time.

A graph of modern brands.A strong guideline should cover voice, tone, logo usage, fonts, layouts, color schemes and more. Ensure each department has access to the right brand information at all times.

These efforts help brand ideals and values stay on display through thick and thin.

3. Stick to Your Ideals During Tough Situations

If you’ve made a habit of something, and this habit has been an overall positive for your customers, don’t abandon it when it’s convenient or when things get difficult.

Think about a time when a brand offered you something important, be it an altruistic commitment, extra service or support. Now, imagine if this brand immediately pulled this service because it was easier for them to do so in a tough situation. How would you feel?

There will be times when your ideals and unique brand features are challenged. When this happens, consumers will expect you to stick with your initial values. If you don’t, they’ll change their opinion of your brand.

After you’ve satisfied the requirements for a consistent brand, you can begin creating wonderful experiences for consumers.

Chapter 5 – Brand Experience

A magical life moment can change our outlook forever. Similarly, an experience we cherish might be linked to a brand, connecting us with that brand for the rest of our lives.

Brand experience shapes the way customers think and feel about a brand based on an important past encounter. It creates loyal customers by attaching a positive emotional connection between them and the brand.

If the brand experience you offer doesn’t excite audiences, they’ll forget you over time and move on to other brands.

A person using a VR headset.One example that I find represents a fantastic brand experience is HBO’s escape rooms. Clearly, linking HBO and experience together might be difficult, considering it simply airs a TV show or movie. There’s no real event or interaction.

However, HBO capitalized on a real-life phenomena, the escape room. These were a team-building game in which human participants used clues to get out of a locked room together. HBO took it a step further by recreating rooms from their popular TV shows. This created a brand experience that people would remember forever and link with the HBO brand.

Let’s start building our own brand experience. Here are some helpful strategies.

1. Personalize When Possible

The modern user expects personalization on almost all their platforms. If we have the chance to personalize an experience, it’s an absolute must.

Personalizing the experience will make the event more memorable and create a deeper bond between consumers and brand. In contrast, if we don’t meet consumer expectations, they’ll surely seek out brand experiences from brands who will.

Imagine you went to a play every month for five years. The employees at the theater got to know your preferences, and understood that you couldn’t see the stage well if seated too far to the right. As such, every month when you went to the show, they ushered you to a great spot on the left that was perfect for your eyesight.

Now imagine that you visit and no one guides you to the normal seat. In fact, they completely disregard you and you’re left to fend for yourself, eventually sitting on the right side of the theater.

This example shows a direct difference between a personalized experience and not. Make sure your brand uses all tools and technology necessary to cater to consumer needs.

2. Make Emotions a Goal

If you’ve cried at a movie, chances are you remember the name of it and the scene that brought on the waterworks.

Similarly, if you’ve been terrified at a movie, you probably remember the movie and the scenes that scared you.

Two women watching a scary film.Brand experience is bolstered by an emotional response. If the moment is powerful enough to elicit some type of emotion, chances are that person will create a positive connection between a specific feeling (or in this case, emotion) and that brand.

3. Set the Right Tone

Remember that consumers expect a certain tone from brands, based on their history with them. A popular yoga chain hosting an event likely wouldn’t want to play Metallica during it, as this would send the wrong message and not give consumers the experience they were expecting.

There are many different ways to set the right tone with brand experience. The layout of a physical store, for example, should align with your brand ideals and values. Think of the different ways your brand presents itself, and determine whether it’s sending the right message.

Chapter 6 – Brand Positioning

Upon seeing different brand logos or hearing brand jingles, most people think of the types of values, features and positive attributes that specific brand offers.

Is this because the logo design or jingle-tone directly relay a brand’s core values and ideals? Of course not. It’s instead because of how they’ve utilized brand positioning.

Brand positioning is a way to influence a target audience to understand the types of features and values you offer each time they think of your brand. Brand positioning is a strategic approach to present your brand as a superior option.

A pink flamingo next to white swans.Brand positioning is essentially how a brand demonstrates its positive attributes in regard to the types of things their target market finds valuable.

Let’s get started on creating your own unique brand positioning. Here are some key strategies.

1. Craft a Meaningful Brand Positioning Statement

A thoughtful brand positioning statement is one of the most basic, powerful ways to create effective brand positioning.

A brand positioning statement is a way to define your brand – what it does, who it helps, how it helps them and more. This gives team members a clear outline of how to behave throughout projects.

Make sure the statement is direct and clear. A typical mistake is creating a statement that is too vague. “We work hard to be great.” is an example of a much-too-broad statement. All brands try to be great. Be more unique and specific.

Another misunderstood concept with the brand positioning statement is it’s not a slogan or statement to the public. The brand positioning statement is for internal use only.

2. Create a Brand Positioning Map

Brand positioning is impossible without a firm grasp of your target audience’s perception (concerning your products/services vs. competitors).

Therefore, it’s crucial to find a way to zero in on how your audience thinks of your brand.

Luckily, there’s an effective way to do this: build a brand positioning map. This gives us a visual blueprint of where our brand lies in relation to competitors when it comes to different attributes and features.

By creating a map, we give ourselves a better understanding of how consumers perceive us.

A brand positioning map.The above picture is a brand positioning map I made using my best judgment concerning different peanut butter brands. Note that there are separate quadrants, organizing brands by their benefits and features.

My example shows that PB2 is calorie-dense and expensive, Skippy is expensive and has fewer calories, JIf is a great value and Peter Pan is as well.

When building your own map, include features that are important to your intended audience.

3. Consider the Competition and Follow Paved Paths

It’s a lot easier to position your brand once you have an understanding of its direct competition. This implies that you’ll need to research the current market and find potential competitors.

Next, consider the ways in which these brands are positioning themselves. Does what they’re doing seem to be working? If so, how are they accomplishing it? Get a strong understanding of how it’s going for them.

Finally, take this newfound information from your research and apply it to your own positioning. The great thing about this method is you can learn from and avoid other brand’s failures.

Chapter 7 – Brand Image

When you have a good understanding of your brand image, everything else seems to fall right into place. Furthermore, this understanding allows you to work toward improving and bettering your image.

Brand image is how a target market feels about a brand. This feeling and perception is influenced by the brand values, ideals and identity. Brand image is largely crafted by customer interactions with brands.

An elderly gentleman dancing.Remember that brand image isn’t something we have direct, total control over. For example, if an automobile brand changes its slogan to, ‘The safest cars available’, it doesn’t mean their audience will agree.

Brand image isn’t how we see ourselves; it’s how our customers see us.

That being said, we can attempt to influence our brand image. In fact, we need to put our best efforts into this process in order to succeed. A good brand image helps with sales, customer loyalty and more.

Here are a few of the most important strategies to positively influence your brand image.

Transform Your Persona

However successful something is, there’s always room for improvement. This is definitely true with brand personas.

A brand persona is the way brands highlight specific features, values and ideals that are important to them. Personifying a brand makes it easier for consumers to connect with and understand its values.

Even if you have a persona that is working quite well, look for ways to improve it. If you can’t find any, that’s fine. Instead, set up a schedule to evaluate it. This ensures any societal changes don’t throw you off-guard.

Create and Unify Brand Visuals

It’s important that every brand find the right visual elements to match their personal ideals. Just as camouflage matches its surrounding, so do visual layouts and color schemes match a brand’s values.

If your brand wants to promote a environment-friendly lifestyle, colors like blue and green likely work better for it (since the Earth has a lot of blue and green).

Once you’ve come up with the layout schemes, colors, fonts and other visual elements for your brand, it’s important to keep them consistent across all platforms. This requires a unified effort from each department.

One way to ensure visual conformity is to put into place a system that verifies each project meets the requirements.

Consider Your Brand Voice

Similar to a persona, the brand voice is a way to express a certain aura to a target market. Brand voice, like visual elements, needs to stay consistent from campaign to campaign.

Voice reminds people of audible elements, but it extends further to things such as emails, social media and more.

There are a lot of factors that go into voice, which vary from vocabulary to tone and more. Consider how customers will perceive your voice – the attitude and tone it relays.

Think of the different ways your brand could be more human and develop your brand voice accordingly.

Chapter 8 – Brand Association

It’s easy to see why brands want to be associated with certain attributes, like Facebook to social togetherness or YouTube to individuality and creativity. This connection essentially transforms how people think of a brand. It’s created through brand association.

Brand association happens when certain brand traits are entrenched in a customer’s mind. The ideal situation is for these traits to be positive rather than negative. Brand association creates value and equity by making consumers aware of their quality.

A woman thinking about gears.As important as creating positive brand association is, it’s crucial you remember that this is a delicate process that takes planning and effort. Putting a tank next to a dozen eggs in an advertisement won’t make people associate your eggs with the strength of a tank.

Let’s take a look at some ways to create your own brand associations.

1. Understand When and Where to Use Visuals

Just as a skull and crossbones doesn’t belong on breakfast cereal boxes, neither do your brand visuals belong on incompatible locations and campaigns.

Think of ways that your brand elements could influence your target market to create positive associations. Sometimes, your color schemes and layouts do most of the work for you. Other times you need to get creative.

A brand chart.For example, if you have brand colors like orange and black, creating some type of Halloween campaign would be effective.

The last thing to remember when it comes to branded visuals and creating brand associations through them is to respect and understand your limitations.

2. Introduce the Right Language and Vocabulary

An advertisement that uses the wrong language is usually a disaster, even if it’s unnoticeable to the creators. For example, an ad for an MMA fighting event wouldn’t want ‘weak’ language in the promotion, using words such as ‘fun’, ‘happy’, etc.

This type of mistake can create a negative association that fails to accomplish what a brand proposes itself to stand for or value.

Part of creating the right brand association is using the right tone as well. It’s not enough to use consistent vocabulary – you also need a consistent vibe. Think of the way your wording sounds when reading it. Does it relay the values and goals of the brand? Will it get people to create the right type of associations?

3. Introduce Personification

Personification brings inanimate objects to life, giving human traits and tendencies to something that does not have them.

Why is this so important? People love connecting with things on an emotional level, but that’s difficult when not everything is humanistic.

Even if a lamp is reliable, chances are you won’t have strong feelings toward it one way or the other if it breaks. However, if you give that lamp a name, attach some fake legs and draw a face onto it, some feelings might arise.

The same goes with your brand. Look for ways to personify things that might influence positive brand associations. Chances are there are a lot of different ways to use this powerful idea immediately.

Use these ideas to create brand associations that bring more customers and followers to your brand. Even the smallest associations can make waves.

Now that you understand brand associations, let’s take a look at the brand awareness concept.

Chapter 9 – Brand Awareness

When people see the Coca-Cola logo, they feel comforted, nostalgic, happy and calm. This is definitely not unusual. In fact, most everyone has some type of brand that brings out certain powerful emotions.

Now, it would seem that Coca-Cola would have wanted their logo to make people thirsty, and maybe they originally did. However, their extensive branding heightened their brand awareness.

Brand awareness is when someone recognizes specific brand traits and unique qualities. It is more than just seeing a logo and knowing which brand it belongs to. Brand awareness is a positive quality that indicates success.

A man drawing on a whiteboard.So, why is brand awareness so important? For one, it’s a main driver of brand equity. As customers grow accustomed to a certain brand’s quality, they’re willing to pay more for their products over competitor’s.

Another reason it’s so valuable is it helps companies introduce new products and services or enter new markets.

Let’s break down some of the key ways to boost your brand awareness:

Spell Out Your Brand in Detail

One of the biggest problems many brands have is that their target market doesn’t understand who they are or what they do. To overcome this, work on making it clear what the brand is all about.

Think about the different ways your brand is presented to audiences. Would they be able to describe it in detail? Could they explain its characteristics?

A film clip.These types of questions need to be answered in order for a brand to gain true awareness. Put your best features forward and make it clear what your brand stands for at all times.

Focus on Content

It’s pretty tough to further our branding efforts without a serious focus on creating amazing content. Remember that people are accustomed to receiving all types of advertisements and clickbait each and every day.

We need to completely disconnect from the mundane and instead overhaul the way our content is delivered and the level of quality it contains.

Don’t put a cap on your creativity! Remember that most people will enjoy something if the overall content is quality. It doesn’t matter if it’s an ad trying to sell something or a random story – the quality is key.

Give Audiences a Reason to Listen

You’re trying to reach out and connect with customers in so many different ways. Take a step back and decide whether your approach is working. Put yourself in the shoes of your recipients and see if these methods would please you or be off-putting.

In what ways are you connecting with audiences? Does this connection feel like an attempt at a sale or a friendly check-in?

This doesn’t mean you have to personalize everything or avoid conversations about sales. Instead, it’s simply a reminder that brand awareness isn’t built by bludgeoning our customers with boring newsletters that offer no personal connection.

Chapter 10 – Brand Authenticity

When most people picture a brand that they want to connect with, it is always, at the very least, sincere. The brand is truthful, honest, genuine and real.

I’m not alone in these requirements, either. It’s common for brands to be evaluated first and foremost on brand authenticity by their audiences.

So, what is brand authenticity? It’s the result of a brand that sticks to its values and is honest with its customers. An authentic brand goes out of its way to keep lines of communication open to customers while showing that it really cares.

A note that reads 'be honest'.Brand authenticity allows companies to thrive in situations where others may struggle. Customers continue to purchase products and services from brands who are authentic.

Here are some ways to build up your own brand authenticity:

1. Transparency Is King – Strive for It

It’s pretty tough to be authentic without full transparency. Even if everything you say is true, if you hide anything or fail to answer certain questions, it all falls apart.

This is where things can get tricky: giving a non-answer is unacceptable. A true commitment to transparency requires an all-or-nothing approach. Everything has to be out in the open, otherwise your audience will assume the worst.

A common example of transparency is when McDonald’s began placing the nutritional content of their food onto the packaging.

Whether this decision came from outside pressures or within, it showed true transparency and opened up the possibility of making their brand appear authentic.

2. Remember What’s Truly Important Throughout Each Campaign and Interaction

It’s easy to lose sight of our goals, values and visions from time-to-time. However, it’s important we realign with them immediately to maintain brand authenticity.

Each time we have communication with our audiences, it’s crucial to, on top of being sincere, uphold our brand ideals.

When people think of authentic brands, they generally picture the values brands have and the larger goals they pursue for the greater good.

Every brand campaign, project and communication should reflect this, in some way or the other. Stay honest and true to our ultimate goals to be genuine in the eyes of our target audience.

3. Follow Through on Everything

If you give customers a special reason to believe in your brand, don’t fail to meet this expectation. This goes for claims, values and product or service specials.

If your brand stands for something, see it through in all situations. Your target audience will absolutely notice if you fail to do so.

When releasing a new line of products, make sure all claims made about them can be met. It’s easy to slip up, but it’s not so easy to gain back customer trust.

The result of your consistency and commitment will be a true customer loyalty and an audience base who believes that you are truly brand authentic.

Chapter 11 – Co-Branding

If you’ve ever been on a road trip with someone, you’re probably aware of the idea behind teamwork. On a road trip, it seems like one person drives while the other navigates the map or GPS.

If you and your companion are both great drivers but bad navigators, you don’t make the best team. Similarly, if you both are great navigators but bad drivers, the trip might not go so well. Clearly, the best result is if one is a good driver and the other a good navigator.

Fists colliding.The same can be said about brands. Teaming up with another brand has potential to be great or terrible, depending on if you find a good match. This is called co-branding.

Co-branding is an agreement that joins two (sometimes more) companies to create a new product or offer a new service. The reason this works is because they share each other’s brand names, logos and other brand elements.

Co-branding can help brands in many ways, including:

  • Entering new markets
  • Overcoming potential weaknesses
  • Reducing risks
  • Maximizing publicity

As you can see, co-branding has some serious potential to help a new product or service succeed. However, it’s not always beneficial. Just like in the ‘drivers and navigators’ scenario above, things can go awry.

Co-branding has a few negative possibilities, such as:

  • Bringing in a bad reputation from a different brand
  • Financial issues/negotiations
  • Opposing cultures

With this in mind, let’s look at some strategies and guidelines sure to put you on the right co-branding path:

1. Make Sure You Can Justify the New Product

The idea to co-brand and release a new product has to be backed up by solid reasoning. This is not meant to be some type of stunt or ill-planned strategy.

In order for the co-branding to be successful, you need to ask yourself whether the product or service you’re creating will actually please customers. Keep in mind, adding a new logo to the product doesn’t really add anything for the customer.

There needs to be a concrete reason why the new (or improved) product adds value, otherwise the co-branding will fail.

2. Remember, You’re Working With Another Brand – Draw up a Concrete Proposal.

If you’ve ever been in some type of partnership, even if it was brief, you certainly know how quickly a disagreement can send things off the rails. The same goes for co-branding. No matter how well things might be working with our products, there is bound to be some disconnect at some point.

When this happens, you’ll want to be sure that you don’t get taken advantage of. That’s why it’s so valuable to, before the co-branding partnership, create some type of agreement. This should specify key details of future potential incidents.

The most important part of this phase is making the agreement as clear as possible, so that if something goes wrong, there’s no uncertainty over the next steps to take.

3. Consider What Each Side Might Bring to the Table

Two wrongs don’t make a right. With co-branding, two rights don’t always make a right either! What I mean by this is, having two parties that are experts at one thing doesn’t mean the resulting projects they complete will be expert-level.

Oftentimes, two brands that excel at the same thing can’t really work together. It seems strange, but the differences in strategy and theory will likely result in a completely worse result than if the brands had completed a product on their own.

To combat this, you’ll want to select a co-branding partner that is in a similar field but doesn’t do exactly what you do. For example, if you make footballs, don’t team up with another brand that does too. Instead, team up with a paint brand that can paint your footballs.

Chapter 12 – Rebranding

The need for serious change comes and goes, leaving a window of opportunity to create something new or improve on something that already exists.

When it comes to your brand, minor changes do happen every so often. However, a rebranding pushes everything forward and attempts to build a powerful, unique brand.

Rebranding is the way brands evolve their identity, pushing forward new visual elements and positioning while also showing their audience that the brand is completely different. A rebranding is a comprehensive change that creates a completely different outlook on a brand’s values and goals.

A rebranding is important for many reasons. Here are some of the main benefits:

  • Boosts creative workflows
  • Brings in new customers
  • Expands uniqueness
  • Shows why you’re a better choice than the competition

Now that you see why rebranding is so important, here are some keys to getting it right:

1. Go the Extra Mile

Part of rebranding is the idea that you’ll come away with something better. This only takes place if your process is comprehensive and coordinated.

Remember that you’re not just changing a logo haphazardly; but instead are syncing all branding elements together with a new core concept.

The deeper you explore and more coordinated your process becomes, the better the chance of a successful rebrand.

2. Deepen Your Understanding of the Competition

Rebranding isn’t always just about our brand alone. Sometimes, we need to maneuver based on what the competition is doing.

A businessperson wearing boxing gloves.This makes it very important to research and analyze our competition in order to figure out the ways in which they’re succeeding or not.

Once we have some solid information about our competitors, we can then use this information to inject ideas and creativity into our own rebrand, increasing the chance of success.

3. Coordinate Everything for Consistency

An extensive collaboration is a must from all teams for a rebranding to work. Without it, there will be areas where consistency is lacking.

This often goes beyond during the planning phase of the process, too. It’s important to gather feedback in an effective manner from all types of impacted departments. This will give better insight into if everything is fitting together nicely.

Finally, make sure that all potential changes are thoroughly understood and there is a detailed plan that provides structure to all the work about to be done.

4. Evaluate Your Brand Elements

Part of rebranding involves changing different brand elements, such as a logo, slogan, jingle, etc. In order to do the rebranding correctly, these elements will sometimes have to be adjusted in order to fit the new core values.

As such, take some time to evaluate these elements and decide whether or not they are still relevant within the new values and mission.

For example, if your brand decides to create a new tone that represents dark, heavy, aggressiveness, a color scheme of pink, white and yellow might not make a whole lot of sense anymore. This goes the same for all logos and other brand elements.

Chapter 13 – Brand Value Proposition

There’s a lot to be said about first impressions. One of the most common ideas about first impressions is they are very brief! You get a quick chance to make a good one.

A brand value proposition is similar. It is a message placed on the entry points of a company webpage, designed to inform specific details about the brand.

A brand value proposition model.This message details why a customer should select your product or service instead of your competitors. It does this by offering what types of problems you’ll solve for the customer.

There are quite a few benefits of creating a successful brand value proposition, including:

  • Increases leads and sales
  • Boosts overall focus
  • Creates separation between you and the competition
  • Makes things easier on marketers
  • Structures future projects

With so many benefits, it’s clear you should put serious effort into this task. Here are some tips to writing a powerful brand value proposition:

1. Wording Is Crucial

Included in this idea is the length and structure of the wording. Just like with any other time you write, certain lengths are too long or short. Generally, the brand value proposition should be brief yet long enough to include a lot of details.

As far as the content, it should be catchy and creative but simple at the same time. You don’t want to confuse the readers in the slightest, but you don’t want them to be unimpressed – find a happy medium.

Lastly, stick to the facts and what you’re truly able to offer. Don’t make it sound like you’re trying too hard to convince the customers. This will turn them off.

2. Include the Most Important Benefits

Just because the value proposition is shorter in length, doesn’t mean it can’t be loaded with information.

Jam as many of the benefits and solutions you offer into the proposition, as this is your best shot of getting customers to stick around.

It should be pointed out that there’s not really anything wrong with going a bit longer in the text if you need to. As long as you structure everything correctly so it’s appealing aesthetically, readers shouldn’t have a problem.

3. Consider Your Presentation

The presentation of your statement absolutely matters, and should sync with the rest of the page overall. For example, it should be within the correct color schemes, use the same font, etc.

Also take note of the images used in the background or near the value proposition. Even though they’re not technically a part of it, they do add to it (or take away from it). Keep all images as demonstrations of the services.

Consider adding things like bullet points and other paragraph-shortening methods to make things a bit more snappy and easier to read. This will give the overall feel of the page a much better touch.

Chapter 14 – Brand Equity

Do you ever wonder why certain brands charge a higher price for similar products? Seems like a strange concept when you think about it.

Even stranger is the fact that customers willingly pay these higher prices despite knowing full well that the product is essentially the same.

This concept is driven by brand equity, and it’s not going away any time soon, so make sure you’re doing everything you can to increase yours.

Brand equity in a nutshell is how strongly customers trust a particular brand. This adds measurable value to a company and allows them to price goods and services higher because of the brand name attached to them. The better the consumer perception of a brand, the higher the price can be without losing sales.

People forming a human arrow.Brand equity is responsible for numerous positive benefits, some of which are lesser-known. These typically include:

  • The power to increase prices
  • The potential to keep customers longer
  • Aids expansion into new markets

So how do we obtain stronger brand equity to reap these rewards? Here are some key methods:

Uphold Brand Values

Brand values give customers a reason to believe in your company, showing them that you truly stand for something. To boost brand equity, we need to maintain these values and show our customers that they extend further than a sale, product or service.

One way to uphold our values is by creating marketing campaigns that showcase our commitment to them. For example, if our brand stands for helping the hungry, we could create slogans that shed light onto this fact.

Similarly, you can connect your brand values to the products and services you sell. For example, to show you’re committed to helping the hungry, you could create a new product that isn’t at all wasteful. This helps promote your true values at all times.

Connect With Customers

A powerful way to get customers to connect to our brand is by building an authentic relationship with them.

We can do this by striking up conversations when possible, through all different mediums. Also, if we’re able to get creative, there’s a good chance we’ll find unique ways to stay connected.

For example, seeking out ways to increase engagement on things like social media is helpful. Also, adding a personalized touch to a purchase encourages repeat sales.

Remember that customers have different emotions and feelings when they make a purchase from your brand. It’s up to you to guide these feelings toward a positive emotion.

Stand Out Among Competitors

A large part of brand equity comes from our ability to show why we’re a better fit for the customer than the competition. To best do this, it’s important to evaluate how well our products and services stand out.

It’s also crucial that we handle this process comprehensively, considering the quality and character that our brand and product represent, then adjusting if necessary.

Continually look for new and exciting ways to create separation from the competition while aiming your brand to meet customer requirements.

Chapter 15 – Brand Advocate

Imagine a random movie executive you’d never heard of published an article in the newspaper exclaiming that the new superhero movie was the best film of all time and an absolute must-see. It’s possible that this encourages you to go out and watch the movie.

Now, imagine your best friend tells you that the new superhero movie is the greatest film of all time. Even though your friend might not be a film expert, chances are their recommendation is much more powerful than the newspaper’s.

The above scenario exemplifies how important a brand advocate can be. They promote an idea without incentives, making their opinion seen as much more valuable to their peers.

A brand advocate spreads the word about a brand through different social media platforms, word-of-mouth and more. They are customers who loved a product and experience so much that they felt obligated to recommend it to others.

A graph of different marketing methods.Why are brand advocates so important?

  • They have unlimited marketing potential
  • Their outreach is wide and continues to grow
  • They create more value than most marketing initiatives

So how do we find and encourage brand advocates? Here are some helpful methods:

Focus on Storytelling

It’s easy for customers to connect when they see your brand through a creative lens. This is why storytelling is such an effective way to encourage advocacy.

Not only does storytelling shift the angle on a brand, it also gives unique insight into what they stand for and how they care about their customers.

Look for ways to build your own brand story through successful examples, research and data. The more you know about what types of storytelling help a brand, the more in-tune your story will be with customers.

Maintain Product Quality

Too often when seeking to create brand advocates we forget some fundamentals about what makes them tick. It’s great to deliver a fantastic experience to customers, but if the product is lagging behind, there’s zero chance they will recommend it.

And it’s not just about the quality, functionality and durability of the product either, though this is obviously important. It extends to how the product connects to specific customer needs.

For example, you might have a product that is durable over a long period of time. However, if it is lacking a single specific feature that customers want, the durability won’t matter much. Do your research to make sure you’re offering customers a chance to meet all their needs.

Find Your Advocates

One misconception about brand advocates is that their promotion allows brands to reap rewards passively and without any effort or engagement.

Though there is some truth to this, it disregards the potential for amazing growth. By finding out who our advocates are, we’re able to put them to work, so to speak.

For example, if we find customers willing to rate us highly, share our values and promote our newest products, we can give them the latest information to help them promote us.

So how do we actually find an advocate? One way is through surveys and other communicative connections that reach out to customers. Another way is by using tools such as SparkToro that comb social media for us to seek out potential advocates.

Chapter 16 – Product Branding

Product branding is, first and foremost, helpful and informative. In order to give customers quick insight into a product, it’s branded accordingly.

So what is product branding? It’s a type of branding that promotes a product through things like colors, packaging and more. Product branding helps customers understand key factors about the purchase they’re about to make.

Before I break down some of the best ways to brand a product, here are a few reasons why product branding is so valuable:

  • Guides the customer through a purchase
  • Creates a buffer between brand and company
  • Captures nuanced markets
  • Reduces risks

How do we go about achieving these benefits? Here are some strategies:

Study the Target Market In-Depth

If the main consumers of your product are within a certain age range, you’ll want to adapt branding efforts to target their group specifically.

Similarly, other factors such as their ideals are important to be aware of, as it will also dictate how we brand our product.

Lastly, our research should span both current and potential customers, potentially covering direct competitors and their product branding. Remember that there are times to differentiate and times to follow suit. You’ll make this determination quite a bit as you study competing products.

Create and Maintain Strong Visual Components

The way you present a product to a customer matters. It signals the potential features, utility and quality of a product. This ultimately influences purchases.

Think of the way products are packaged. You wouldn’t expect a luxury pen to come in a yellow cardboard box. Instead, it would probably be packaged in a rich, wooden box. The manner you’ve packaged the product as well as the color of the packaging is important and helpful to the customer.

An infographic on color.Consider also the font used on the product labels and packaging. What does it relay? Does it signify extremeness? Adventure? Safety? Answer these questions for your customers with an effective visual preparation.

Clarify the Product’s Justification for Existing

Utility is crucial when branding a product, and just because you know that the product is beneficial and useful, doesn’t mean the customer does.

Determine what it does, what needs it meets and how all of this stands out among similar products. If this information isn’t obvious, try highlighting it in some way or the other.

For some products, justifying it with branding is almost done for the company. Take for example Diet Coke. It’s existence is to provide an alternative cola with no sugar. Remember that not all products will be so straightforward, so be prepared to get creative.

Chapter 17 – Brand Loyalty

Can you imagine how nice it would be if customers favored your brand over competitors, even after the competition did everything in their power to steal the customer away from you?

This scenario is a reality for brands who build their brand loyalty correctly.

Brand loyalty is when customers use a specific brand’s service, even as situations change. Brand loyalty creates all types of other branding positives, such as brand advocates.

As mentioned above, brand loyalty creates avid brand advocates. What else does it do? Here’s a list of some potential positives:

  • Creates separation between your brand and competitors
  • Directly boosts sales and revenue
  • Results in many lifelong customers

Considering the above advantages, it makes sense to do everything in your power to build brand loyalty. So, how do we go about doing that? Here are some unique methods:

Provide Elite Customer Service

Usually, a combination of a quality product and good customer service are required to fully build brand loyalty. Chances are that even if a product is perfect, a bad service experience can still have customers running for the hills.

A chart of customer service.Part of understanding how to better serve customers is learning their needs, which change from time to time. Interestingly enough, a lot of customer service is now an interaction between human and machine.

However the formula, ensure that the way you tackle serving the customer will align with their values and keep them happy.

Maintain Product Quality

The first thing that likely created some semblance of loyalty for customers to your brand was the quality of your product or services.

Accordingly, it’s going to take a solid effort for this loyalty to both continue and grow. There is some truth to the idea that an inferior product doesn’t matter if enough brand loyalty has already been established. However, this only goes so far.

If your services aren’t keeping up with what the customer wants, and on top of this your competitors are, a potential switch to another brand may happen. Go the extra mile to ensure your product delivers the same powerful results it originally did.

Test Out Different Rewards Programs

Believe it or not, once a rewards or loyalty program is put into place, it’s not set in stone. In fact, many successful brands end up dumping their popular programs without much notice.

That isn’t to say you should abuse your loyal customers. However, it does give you the opportunity to try out other programs to see if they would better serve everyone.

When creating these rewards, consider the layout and structure that would keep customers engaged and feeling like they’re involved fully in some type of game or progress. The more they want to ‘play’, the more loyal they become.

Examine Consumer Trends Occasionally

What initially created brand loyalty won’t stay the same forever. Consumer habits are dynamic and should be researched as such.

Anyone old enough to remember the video store craze also remembers when the internet made it easier to stream and download films. The higher the quality the streams, the lesser need customers had to spend money at a physical location.

Some brands were able to capitalize on this and adapt, others did not. No matter how much loyalty someone might have had to Blockbuster, they just didn’t deliver the services the customer no wanted, so that was that.

Keep this example in mind as a reminder that no matter how great your service once was, there’s always a possibility it won’t be in the future.

Chapter 18 – Brand Recognition

If you’ve paid attention to the recent ‘streaming wars’, it is pretty apparent to you that the once-vacant market has exploded and brands are lining up to compete for customers.

Streaming options are nearly endless now, and it begs the question: which streaming service will be the last one standing?

There are a lot of factors that enter into it, but one that stands out in my mind is this: whichever one has the best brand recognition strategies and structures.

Brand recognition occurs if someone is able to identify a particular brand using elements like colors, sounds, logos and packaging. Most importantly, it is truly only brand recognition if the person can recognize the brand without seeing or hearing its name.

So what kind of rewards come along with powerful brand recognition? Here are a few to consider:

  • Makes your brand stand out in a competitive market
  • Gives brands power of pricing
  • Ensures your brand is tough to ignore

It makes sense, then, that you’d want to work towards building a brand recognition that sticks. Fortunately, all it takes is adherence to some basic principles.

Build Unique Brand Visuals

It goes without saying that it’s hard to stand out when you aren’t unique or different in some way. Aim your brand visuals to adhere to this concept.

Of course, all branded visuals are different. The key here is to be different in a noticeable way. For example, even though Coca-Cola and Pepsi are essentially the same product, their visual elements are extremely different. Just look at their logos:

The Pepsi and Coke logos.Also remember that it’s not simply about being different from the competition. There needs to be creative thought into your designs to represent the brand.

Think of why certain aspects should be included and why some should not. For example, a square-shaped logo works great for a boxing/packaging company. It doesn’t work so well for a pudding company.

When it comes to logos specifically, they need to coincide with your main brand values and ideals in order to be effective.

Of course, logos aren’t the only visual element that aids the increase of brand recognition. Other visible things such as colors, layout structures and fonts are important in this area too.

A color scheme visual graph.Color schemes stand out bigtime, sparking brand recognition for nine out of ten customers when used repetitively.

Consider the ways your colors and visuals make target audiences feel and adjust accordingly.

Don’t Forget the Importance of Audio

There’s a lesser-known concept called audio logos, which are essentially jingles. Though not as memorable or recognizable as visuals, audio has a strong tie to recognition.

It’s also a quickly-growing aspect in technology, being used now in all types of smartphone and other tech devices.

In terms of brands, recognizable audio is everywhere, creating effective links in the minds of customers.

It’s easy to get creative with audio, especially thanks to all the new musical developments that came with new technology. Use the many tools available to build a jingle that sticks.

Focus on Communication Through Social Media

It’s not enough to simply show up to the social media ‘party’ in order to make waves. After creating profiles on sites you feel are essential, take the next step: communication.

Social media brand visual graph.The fact of the matter is your brand should be on social media platforms not to get talked to or to talk at people. Instead, it should be there to talk with people. Promote more than a few sales or services with your communications.

This works wonders for your recognition, especially when you’ve been consistent creating profiles, putting branded materials in place.

Build a Creative Email Newsletter

Part of recognition is repetition, and a consistently-sent email newsletter creates that repetition. This is the case only if the newsletter is creative and worth the customer’s time.

There are two main factors when it comes to this: headlines and content. If the headline is weak, the customers won’t want to open the email.

The next thing to consider is the content. It’s okay to send out mass emails and offer sales, but if the content isn’t somewhat personalized and interesting, it will prevent customers from opening your newsletters in the future.

Chapter 19 – Brand Transparency

The concept or brand transparency in the modern landscape seems paradoxical: since it’s so easy to find information these days, every brand is transparent, so how can a brand strive for transparency?

To clear things up, think of it more like this: all brands are transparent by default now. However, some aim to be more available and open, while others attempt to keep their customers in the dark. It’s not so much about what you reveal, it’s about how you reveal it and how often.

Brand transparency is the attempt a brand makes to be genuine and available. It is often a direct result of honesty in the public spotlight.

Brands can work to be open and honest about things like their values, services, products, errors and pricing.

The following are key ways transparency helps a brand:

  • Motivates employees
  • Builds customer base
  • Encourages advocacy

A brand transparency chart.Building transparency is a process that requires a lot of maintenance, evaluation and strategy. Here are some strategies that will put you on the right path:

Widen Your Communicative Reach

A large part of transparency is the extent of communication a brand participates in. In order to meet this requirement, it’s important to branch out the different ways in which you talk to audiences.

First, evaluate where you’re mostly coming into contact with target audiences. Then check to see if you’re missing a trendy new spot, website or social media site.

A consumer reactions social media graph.Next, make sure the conversations you’re having are honest, genuine and personal. No one is going to see you as authentic if you respond using an automated, cookie-cutter message.

Enhance Your Feedback Systems

Improving on your current feedback systems has two benefits: it allows you to stay in-tune with customer needs and complaints, and it helps customers feel more heard, which boosts your overall transparency.

So how do we go about accomplishing this? One way is to examine the structure we have in place for feedback. Are we available on a bunch of different platforms?

Next, consider how we’re responding to feedback, both positive and negative. Customers want to be heard and acknowledged. If we ignore negative comments, chances are others will see this and believe we only want to hear positive remarks.

Think of the ways to be genuine and honest in all of our feedback mediums. It will certainly make the brand appear to be much more transparent.

Admit Faults When Needed

It’s okay to make mistakes – every brand does. What matters is the response afterward. If it’s covered up, things get worse, especially today with all the access to information available.

We can’t necessarily try to fix everything, but the honesty we show when necessary gives our target audience a reason to believe that we’re unsatisfied with an error and are doing everything possible to make it right.

This doesn’t mean that you have to address every little minor error, but you should consider what types of things require a public announcement to correct and make sure you make one.

Adjust Your Brand Persona

Finally, consider the ways in which customers see our brand in all types of situations. If we were human, how would they interact with us?

This has a lot to do with trust. The more human characteristics our brand shows, the more we’ll be trusted.

So what kind of persona should we try to build? It really comes down to what we expect the target market to want. For example, a skateboarding brand would likely build a youthful persona that isn’t too serious.

Chapter 20 – Brand Compliance

If you’re an avid TV show fan, chances are you were one of the 19.3 million people who watched the series finale of Game of Thrones.

Of those 19.3 million viewers, zero of them knew the ending beforehand. In today’s age of connectedness and instantaneous information, that may seem difficult to believe.

However, it is because the production teams went to great lengths, working together to ensure the details were well-protected.

Brand compliance is a similar concept. Different departments have to come together and all be on board to ensure the branding doesn’t get ‘spoiled’.

Brand compliance is one of the key elements in the pursuit of brand consistency. In fact, if upheld at all times, there are many benefits which comes as a result, including:

  • Increased revenue
  • Reduced branding mishaps
  • Strengthened communication
  • Brand consistency
  • Heightened brand loyalty

So, how do we go about being compliant? Typically, it involves staying on-point with messaging, upholding brand values at all times and maintaining visual elements.

With that in mind, you’ll want to follow a structure and strategy designed to uphold compliance at all times. Here are some unique methods to help you reach these goals.

1. Evaluate Your Current Branding Guidelines

First things first: you’ll want to build a set of branding guidelines that aims to keep everything consistent.

If you’ve already created branding guidelines, that’s great, but they should still be evaluated every now and then to keep up with potential value changes.

Consider if your guidelines are bringing consistency across all channels. If not, locate the places where there is disconnect and brainstorm creative ways to fix it.

A compliance graph.Seek out materials from the latest projects and campaigns to see if everything is meeting branding standards. If it’s not, update the guidelines accordingly.

2. Assign a Team to Lead Compliance Efforts

For whatever reason, companies see the value of having managers and overseers for numerous different tasks and goals, but when it comes to brand compliance, they often don’t see the need.

Don’t fall victim to this misstep. Make sure that there is a dedicated team or department that is in charge of compliance standards.

This may take a little bit of time and effort to get set up, since you want this team to be well-versed in all the values and other elements of your brand. You’ll also need to instruct them of their overall goals and tasks.

Lastly, make sure they have at least a little bit of oversight. This will ensure everything runs smoothly for all involved.

3. Examine Branding in Products and Services

Our values, ideals and mission generally stays the same for long periods of time. This is because when we set these values, they’re important to us and unlikely to change on a whim.

However, the products and services we produce change quite a bit. Even if the change is a slight adjustment, it still runs the risk of going a bit off brand.

Because of how small of changes the products face, it’s easy to miss a compliance error. That’s why a periodic check ensures consistency.

With every new update, consider if the service still represents the brand values that customers have grown to love.

Chapter 21 – Brand Differentiation

Since the late 1800s, automobiles have pushed the boundaries of transportation. Car companies, as a result, have seeked ways to stand out from the pack.

Despite this, none really do. The average customer, in fact, doesn’t find a whole lot of differences from Brand A to Brand B when it comes to automobiles.

However, Tesla changed all that. They not only committed to creating high-performance electric vehicles, but they also have redefined what car companies do.

For example, in 2018, they sent one of their Tesla cars into space. It even orbited Mars!

This is brand differentiation in action. Many believe that if they just alter a product or marketing campaign slightly, they’ll stand out. It just doesn’t work that way too often.

Chances are, the ones who truly stand out took a big chance, and this chance was driven by an understanding of brand differentiation.

There are a few main elements that help differentiation along:

  • Storytelling
  • Values
  • Luxury
  • Personas
  • Experiences

In order to achieve genuine differentiation, you’ll need some concrete strategies. Here are a few that will drive home the differences you desire:

1. Thrive to Make Great Stories

People overwhelmingly love stories in all mediums. Even popular songs come in the form of stories.

Now, brands are finding that a good way to show they’re unique is to tell the tales of how they came to exist. In these stories, they outline the amazing issues they faced and the ways they took it upon themselves to overcome all odds to succeed.

A good brand story also humanizes a brand and makes it easier for customers to connect to it. This in turn produces loyalty that would usually be reserved for other methods.

Ultimately, you want the story to reach out and touch the audience in some way, emotionally, and let them see that there is more to their relationship with the brand than simply buying and selling.

2. Focus on a Unique Market Section

Sometimes, focusing on a smaller section of the market is something brands choose to do. Other times, it’s out of necessity.

Why is it a necessity? If you’re unable to compete with bigger brands in the current market, switching to a smaller market isn’t really a choice – it’s mandatory to survive.

Also keep in mind that this change can expand your customer demographics beyond what you originally intended or thought was even possible.

The point is, even if you don’t have as many customers, you want a certain few who are advocates and who will remain loyal.

3. Provide Exciting Experiences

When there are two brands with nearly identical products, services and values, the only way for one of them to differentiate from the other is by creating amazing brand experiences.

A brand experience graph.A common misconception about experiences is that they have to be a groundbreaking ordeal. That’s not the case, as many brand experiences that are memorable tend to be quite subtle and simple.

Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign is a good example of this. Coke didn’t have to hold an extravagant event or launch one of their beverages into space with a rocket to create a memorable experience.

Instead, they simply personalized and humanized the idea of buying their product by including different names on bottles so that customers could buy drinks for their friends and family in a personal, thoughtful way.

4. Get Creative With Your Marketing

All too often, marketers try to get creative but end up making something that is essentially the same as what competing brands came up with. It may be different, but it elicits the same emotional feel from the audience.

Furthermore, marketing campaigns sometimes go too far in their attempt to differentiate, leaving them with something too extreme or unusual for audiences to enjoy.

The key then is finding a good balance between the same old stuff and the extreme. This requires a combination of research, creativity and good judgment.

You’ll have to shake up the norms of marketing, but do so in a way that engages audiences and sustains this engagement. Don’t just shock them and expect them to be impressed.

5. Relay Your Authority When Possible

One thing that truly helps a brand stand out among competitors is expertise. Showing a strong authority on subjects makes it easier for a customer to choose your brand.

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to show authority. Remember, of course, that in order to show it, you need to have it.

PR is an effective method to get the word out that you know what you’re doing. Consider the different outlets you could utilize to show audiences what you’re made of.

Another thing that brands often try is guest-blogging. When you find a notable blog, consider writing a piece for them to build your audience and show expertise.

Chapter 22 – Brand Dilution

Trying to do too many things at one time gives you firsthand insight into the problem with spreading yourself too thin.

Even if done successfully (shaving in the car while driving, homework while watching television, etc.), it’s still possible that you’ve watered down the quality of the task completed.

When it comes to brands, dilution is a legitimate issue that all too often they’re unprepared for.

Brand dilution is when a brand attempts to corner a new market or release a product that doesn’t fit what they’ve done in the past. Even if it’s a success financially, it can water down the brand and change its image.

Brand dilution occurs whenever a company makes a new product that doesn’t fit their expertise or values. Think of it like a mistake that makes someone look inexperienced, or a phrase that makes a person seem uninformed, despite having shown themselves knowledgeable in the past.

The best thing you can do to avoid brand dilution is stick with what you’re good at. If a brand makes great technology gear, it would be strange if they attempted to launch a new food product.

Here are two contrasting examples, one of a brand who fell victim to dilution, the other of a brand who did it right.

Brands Who Did It Wrong

The following brands changed things up for the worse, watering down their brand. Don’t forget that it’s possible for a new product, service or decision to be successful while still diluting the brand.

1. Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson has been great at sticking to what they do best, keeping their loyal customers happy and staying true to their values. Unfortunately, this briefly faltered when they attempted to enter the cologne/perfume market.

Harley Davidson Perfume, which came in a rough and tumble type of packaging, was so far off of what the Harley brand is about.

They sell an idea as well as motorcycles, and this idea wasn’t really bolstered at all by perfume.

2. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan has become a worldwide phenomena, with his logo appearing on just about every piece of basketball gear worn still today.

Michael Jordan in a baseball jersey.However, there was a brief time that he made a costly error to his brand. When he left the sport of basketball, which he dominated at, to play baseball, his brand took a serious hit.

There was some initial buzz about the decision, but the performance level wasn’t nearly the same as when he was in his true calling – basketball.

Brands Who Did It Right

1. Apple

As we see time and time again, the best way to avoid spreading yourself too thin is sticking to what you’re good at. Even if it’s different, it can still be similar.

With Apple, their iPod was similar to what they already did, only different. That’s why it was so successful – Apple used their talents to create something magnificent.

Not only was the iPod a success, but it also built upon Apple’s brand image as a technology juggernaut who was capable of versatility.

2. Taco Bell

Taco Bell has shown they’re willing to mix things up in terms of products and store renovations. To avoid brand dilution, they’ve generally partnered up with other brands to get new products right.

For example, the Doritos Locos Taco and the Mountain Dew Baja Blast are both huge successes.

They’ve had successful brand extensions, as well, including the Taco Bell Taco Sauce, a bottle made for retail consumption. The reason it worked is it didn’t stray too far from their talents.

Conclusion

Your brand is unique in many ways, but no one will really appreciate that fact if you aren’t effectively branding.

The above concepts provide a solid foundation to the all-important branding processes you’ll engage in. Remember that the more you familiarize with each of these strategies, the more effective your branding efforts will become.

Lastly, remain focused on branding as much as possible for sustained success.

picture of cory schmidt

Cory Schmidt – Head of Marketing | Canto

Cory is the Head of Marketing at Canto. He draws on years of experience to help marketers understand topics like brand management, demand generation and digital asset management.

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