What is the recipe to create a successful, leading brand? And has this changed in the new digital era? There are some standard ingredients that have been around for many years and are still critical; but a good dollop or two of some newer ingredients is also required.
A brand is essentially a symbol of trust. A great brand is trusted to deliver on its promises and to consistently meet or exceed its customers' expectations. Consistency is the foundation of a successful brand. Not to the point of being 'same old' and dull, but rather, to establish and build a reputation for being reliable at delivering what it promises. Consistency is also important when it comes to the visual aspects of a brand. Using the brand's icon, typography, colours and shapes consistently builds subconscious recognition of the brand. Together, these visual elements form a sign post of all the good stuff that the brand stands for. The Coca Cola brand illustrates beautifully how consistency works to build a strong brand: consistent product delivery and taste wherever you are in the world, consistent promise of happiness, consistent colour and bottle shape. And Coke has also shown how inconsistency can let your brand down when they dabbled with the taste that everyone loved and launched the disaster that was dubbed 'New Coke'.
Consistency requires focus. Knowing what you are and what you are not. Brands that lack focus don't end up standing for much; there is just too much noise and clutter to get a clear picture. Focus is becoming increasingly important in the social world that is open and endless. As your brand joins conversations, it opens itself up to users to shape and play with it, making it vital to know what sits at its heart. What are its values, what does it believe in, what does it support and importantly, not support? Just like a person, a brand without a heart and a backbone could end up 'off the rails'.
To the magic recipe of trust, consistency and focus we need to add a few new ingredients to enable brands to win in our new social world.
First, participation. Empowered by technology, consumers have been getting more and more involved in acquiring information, sharing information, creating content, and making more informed decisions. Participation has become an expectation, no matter who or what they are dealing with. Your brand is no different, especially if they have a soft spot for it. Consumers want to be able to get involved and make their mark on it. They want to be able to share it with their network. They want the brands they love to join them where they are and get involved in what they are doing. To play the game with them, not be the referee. And these days, people are doing a lot of good deeds, helping others, trying to make the world a better place. They expect the same from their favourite brands. Great brands are generous. They don't just do what is right for them and their direct customers; they are collaborating with their customers to create shared social, economic and environmental value.
Successful brands engage with their fans, with their minds,
hearts and all their senses. They add genuine value to peoples'
Does your brand have the right measures and dollops of trust, consistency, focus, participation and generosity to mix together to make it a leading brand?