Mortal sins of branding or how to create an excellent brand
Today, more information is exchanged in a day than ten years ago in a year. The competition in gaining attention is tougher by the moment, and distinction among brands has never been more difficult. In this respect, the challenge that we communicators face is significant: to create a superior presence of the companies we represent and to make sure that our (or our client’s) brand is recognizable, consistent, and above all unforgettable in the sea of brands.
What we shouldn’t do if we want our brand to survive, was revealed by a US expert on branding David Brier at this year’s SEMPL conference. Let me share some key points with you here.
Bet on experience
It’s essential that we understand the difference between selling and branding – the latter creates an experience and, consequently, always overcomes the sales attitude. If our brand generates positive experiences and gives the user certain added value, the transaction will always follow as people buy emotional ties and feelings. The decision to sell our product or service should never be the goal, but the beginning of a relationship we build with our customers. We at Propiar are aware that the experience is our added value. We build and strengthen relationships with our clients by continuously trying to offer them “that additional little something”, whether it’s an additional know-how in a form of free Apropó PRO workshops we’ve developed based on the Apropó project intended for young people, or the activities for strengthening interpersonal relationships.
“Clichés are able to kill more companies than politics. Our task is to prevent clichés from accessing our customers’ brands.”
Brier finds a cliché a “mortal sin” and an enemy of every brand. If we use the same language, images, emphasize the same values and advantages as many other companies in the industry, we will never differ from them. The lack of original ideas leads to predictability and we soon become “the most innovative”, “the best”, “first choice”…exactly what our competitors claim to be. People perceive our brand through what they hear, see, and feel – if we don’t have a unique voice, colour and don’t offer unique experiences, we will be one of many. Let’s take Propiar for example – we don’t consider ourselves a public relations agency, but a strategic communication company, development drivers in Slovenian public relations profession and the first agency with a mediated website in Slovenia.
Use the verb
Besides avoiding clichés, Brier advises we always define our function using the verb. People don’t care much about who we are and what we do, but what the result is. Do we change lives? Do we bring changes? We at Propiar definitely know that we are a team specialized in various areas of communication creating trends and managing changes. This is what differs us from others and we make sure that our clients and competitors do care whether we exist or not – they can love us or hate us – according to Brier, both is better than if they didn’t care at all.
Look into the future
One Brier’s key thesis says that the brand’s success depends to a large extent on how much the future lies in it. Good brands are constantly working on effective things that deliver the right results. If our procedures and steps are not effective (any more) because holding on to old patterns, we can work hard, but in the end of the day, the only result will be a few drops of sweat. The key is that we are focused on the future, follow trends in our field and manage them to the limit. Let’s explore, challenge the status quo and dare to surpass the expected. Let’s be exquisite, unforgettable and different in what we do, and so will be our brand.
Finally, consider some other basic questions and tips that can serve as guidelines for planning your branding:
- How does your brand stand out (why would someone choose you over your competition)?
- What makes you similar to your competitors? If you notice more than 75% similarity in key messages, vision, images, promises…you are just one of many.
- What are the key differences that your customers evaluate positively? Use them to create a unique story of your brand.