Why brand can be your most competitive advantage

If you are yet to get your brand strategy right and your brand story clear, you are likely to be missing out on numerous opportunities to strengthen your business. A genuine, original, and recognisable brand is the foundation for attracting the necessary investment, customers, and talent for rapid expansion and sustainable progress.

For many companies, their brand begins with their product or service – but all too often that soon accidentally evolves into the brand itself. This makes it hard when you need to scale, diversify your offering, and genuinely stand out from the crowd.

So what’s the key to developing a successful brand? 

Be genuine – brand truths should sit at the heart of all you do.

Brand truths are the genuine and authentic aspects of your brand. They weave through everything you do, ensuring you bring meaning and purpose to your customers and teams. Often, your USP will be missed or overlooked, so it’s essential to ensure your bigger brand messages explain the value you bring in simple, clear and truthful language.

And when proof-points underpin your brand story, your audience will be even more likely to remember you. This also builds trust and removes scepticism, which is important when trying to stand out with a fresh offering in a crowded and noisy marketplace. The most compelling proof-points are those that demonstrate your service or product delivers on its promises such as testimonials, case-studies, or even a commitment.

A brand promise is a value or experience a company’s customers can expect to receive every single time they interact with that company. For example, you ‘belong anywhere’ with Airbnb, a brand that promises to make you feel that you belong wherever you stay. This transpires through their language in which traditional suppliers become partners and despite their disparate workforce, all employees feel at home with Airbnb.

A unicorn you say? Well I can see a whole herd…

We typically have positive biases that convince us that our offering is unique, or that no one else does it as well as we do. In truth, most companies have a substantial competitor set, or a company hot on their heels and eager to develop a better version of what you do.

It may seem unfair, but when these biases are combined with a human tendency to compartmentalise information, you risk being immediately grouped by your audience as being ‘just like all the others’. And without a compelling and original brand, you will struggle to prove that you genuinely do offer something better.

Let me illustrate, at a recent event we went to, one business had ‘Your CRM sucks’ on the back wall of their stand (nice work, Membrain!) . I’m sure there were multiple CRM providers present, but theirs is the only one I remember and I knew in an instant what type of company they were and what they stood for. I have no idea if their product offering is actually any better than the competitors – but they’re definitely on my consideration list – so they made it past the first hurdle – the battle for awareness.

Be recognisable – a strong visual identity and tone of voice.

Sure, I’m talking about your logos, colours, and fonts. However, it’s about so much more than this including: imagery, social media presence, collateral, website, and even the clothes your team wears etc. These things should enable your business to stand out, and must be consistent and easy for you to identify as yours.

Common branding mistakes include trying to be too trendy (read short-lived), which leads to a requirement to change the brand every few years. This is a sure-fire way to confuse your people and your customers, which becomes a very slippery and expensive slope. Brand evolution is fine. Think about the evolution but consistency of the apple in the Apple brand. If the apple was changed to an avocado the brand would risk disorienting the customer.

But how can we measure the ROI of our brand?!

(Asks the performance marketing-focused company)

You can’t. Well, not accurately anyway.

Because a strong brand penetrates and sews together every element of your business, identifying and measuring the influence it has and attributing specific successes to it is almost impossible. However, there are positive indicators to look for. In short, if marketing is resonating with your target audience & driving sales, your people are engaged and energetic, and your business is growing, you can be confident your brand is doing its job.

Overall, investing in a strong brand strategy will help you to mitigate various risks, position you as a reliable and confident market-player, and ensure you stand out amongst the crowd. Many businesses take too long to take this leap forward, missing out on a wealth of opportunities to fast-track them to success. Getting ahead of the curve means making a keystone investment in your brand. Cite has the branding experience and expertise to get you there.