The Battle of the Brands

Everyone wants to be part of a business that matters, one which is recognisable with a strong brand image, but it’s thirsty work! There are some huge-hitting companies out there – real powerhouses in the world of marketing – all of which are clever enough to have their essence engrained on our very subconscious. These companies are more than a graphic with a tagline – their brand offers us a feeling. As branding and marketing consultants we work with companies to do just that – make sure they stand out from the crowd.

Recognisable brands
Let me throw some infamous brands at you and witness how their logo design materialises in your mind: Volkswagen. Google. Shell. Playboy (perhaps some of us won’t admit to this). The Olympics. Apple. Pepsi. Tesco. You now know what I’m getting at!

The power and persistent presence that brands like these hold with consumers is a great feat in terms of advertising and marketing the identity of businesses, companies and organisations. It’s an achievement well worth exploring – especially if you feel your own brand isn’t getting adequate attention. Brand management across all aspects of a company can not only trigger an increase in your profile, but an increase in prospects and profit too.

Consistent branding and marketing materials
I could wade into the intricate nature of symbolism and the strength of a single image to evoke feelings and associations… but that’s somewhat irrelevant here. The symbol representing a brand is just one of many cogs in the brand strategy machine pushing a business to the forefront of its industry. Successful businesses go to great efforts to reflect their ethos across ALL tactile touchpoints including website, copywriting, packaging, adverts, business cards, brochure design, signage and vehicle livery.

However, the businesses that genuinely stand out are those who are extending this effort across non-tactile platforms too. These guys have maximum brand impact and know that it’s the smartest way to make their business grow. Non-tactile touchpoints include company customer service, word of mouth, customer promises and guarantees, quality of administration, staff attitude, community involvement and even social media presence. These combine to show the ‘personality’ of the brand. No smart catch-phrase or slick headline can trump the advertising prowess of a carefully run twitter account or 100% satisfaction guarantee delivered from the folk in the warehouse to the white collars in accounting.

In simplest terms, the secret behind a strong, memorable brand is for all those representing it to live and breathe the brand itself. The most powerful transformation you can make to grow your customer base is to ensure your sales strategy echoes your company ethos. An incredible example of this in the UK’s largest department store John Lewis, ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’. The department store is extremely confident with their corporate identity. I could storm into their store grumpy and seeking a refund but will always walk out smiling and genuinely happy. An outstanding example of a brand being represented from its friendly, bold font logo all the way through to the heart-felt cashiers. This is what you need to take on board when reviewing your own brand – will coming into contact with it effect the life of the customer in a positive way?

The foolproof way to give your brand the midas touch is to ensure it ticks these two boxes:
1. CONNECT with your prospects.
2. Show WHY it matters.

There are so many avenues to go down with this, so ensure your approach aligns with the core of what you do. Don’t stray. Don’t overload your brand. All the research you need is at your disposal – simply look toward other successful companies for inspiration! Explore the discovery process from the very first touchpoint, to initial purchase, to becoming a repeat customer. It is fascinating, especially once you spot where each company hooks you. It’s even worth considering what brands you admire or properly connect with – and why?

Above all else, you want to be a company that stands out. It’s the only route to achieve great things, and it all starts with having the best branding strategy possible and to keep a synergy running in all aspects of your operation. Whether a small family-run business or large corporate, your brand needs to matter, because it’s a battlefield out there.

Vincent Bissette is Managing Director of Darwin Brand Consultants, a Glasgow-based brand and marketing agency with clients in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester.