Every company from the Chia Pet to Calvin Klein Jeans has a brand, and though you are not one of them, you could be with the right steps. So, what is your brand? How do you build one and what does creating a brand mean?
Your brand is your company’s DNA and personality; it is what differentiates your business from the competition. A brand helps customers select your business over others. Here's five easy steps to create your own brand:
Step 1: Research. Whatever the motive to start a business in any industry, there needs to be a clear purpose how your business will service it. Before offering services or a product, the company must clearly understand where they stand compared to their peers.
Research can provide insight into the potential for success. Eventually it helps identify what the expectations of the market are, but more importantly it helps a company identify their competition, work environment, and their points of parity and points of difference.
Step 2: Keep it the same and different simultaneously. Anyone starting a business should know what general criteria their customers expect. We call those points of parity.
For every gym you attend, you will find they distribute towels, typically have changing rooms, and most certainly have water fountains. Most fast food restaurants offer burgers and French fries.
On the alternative side, gyms differentiate themselves by offering unique classes, while fast food restaurants differentiate their food through unique and exclusive recipes. We call these points of difference.
They are the factors that distinguish a business from their competitors. Points of difference should be desired and useful to your customers, and your points of difference should be difficult to replicate by your competitors, because if they aren’t, they will be replicated.
It is also vital to note that, over time, points of difference should be revisited to make sure they have not become points of parity or the norm. Items that were once differentiators can become new expectations for products and services.
Step 3: Identity and Naming. The identity of a company’s brand is perpetuated on its behavior and performance. The better a company performs and responds to customer inquiries, the more it will strengthen their brand.
To meet a performance metric that equates to success, it is vital for an individual to understand the accepted behavior and culture of the industry in which their company associates.
It is also vital to know what norms are mandatory and the ones that invite creativity. If this isn’t balanced correctly, the individual may cause harm to their brand and confuse the audience they are targeting.
Naming can be part of a good positioning strategy and important for a brand. Depending on the industry a company is in, the nature of the name may be significant. It should be intuitively appropriate to the image they want to convey.
Just as the physical appearance is what audiences see, a name is the first thing customers hear, so it should intrigue them. Whatever the purpose behind selecting a name, it is also wise to consider the short- and long-term strategies for the brand as it grows globally.
Step 4: The Brand Community. In the last decade, social media has changed how people process and receive information. Individuals have the power to market their company’s brand and respond to their customers directly.
Engagement and interaction can frequently occur, especially with tools like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. It is a chance for an individual to seize opportunities to showcase their company’s capabilities and talents. It is also an opportunity to gain a global audience without stepping foot in that nation.
Therefore, it is necessary for any individual to streamline into their branding strategy the use of digital media to build a community. This will eventually cultivate a stronger relationship with an audience, and provide direct insight into their changing tastes and those of the market.
Step 5: Protecting the Brand. When a company’s brand has achieved a plateau of success, maintaining its position will be vital. Ultimately, the goal would be to conquer the entire market through growth, but in a capitalistic society, new entrants will always emerge.
At this point of the branding cycle, an individual who does the aforementioned might walk away as the brand has been established. However, building a company with the expectations that consumers will come is a set up for failure.
Authentic branding considers the process that occurs once the brand is released to the public. This phase is crucial, because it will determine how an audience, the industry, and peers will respond.
Fortunately, protecting a brand’s competitive advantage does not require alternative processes or methods. Instead, it simply requires revisiting the steps above.
An established brand may not need to change much, if at all, but it requires constant re-evaluation.
Karleen Leveille is a Queens-based entrepreneur who owns a production company that supports major television networks.