What we have to say on effective marketing.

The second installment in our "How To Series".

How to create a powerful brand proposition.

Once you have identified the key opportunities and differentiators of your brand or idea, the next step is to define your brand proposition. This is essentially the way in which you will go about informing the market about your product or service. Now is when you begin to pinpoint and create the precise experience that you want your consumers to have when they interact with the brand.

But before we go any further, let's explore what a strong brand proposition does. A brand proposition is ultimately the assertion of what you intend to provide if a consumer/customer chooses your brand or service. This proposition, or promise, should encapsulate the most compelling reasons why a consumer should choose your brand or service over others.  There aren't any rules that govern what these reasons could be. For example, they could relate to either a unique emotional attribute or practical benefit of the brand.

So, what makes a great brand proposition?

There are a couple of fundamentals to keep in mind. Firstly, it should be accessible and easy for the average consumer to grasp. To make an impact, the proposition must be unique and clearly differentiate the brand from its competitors.

In addition, you always need to question whether the proposition is authentic, as consumers can easily detect empty promises. Ensure that your brand really can deliver in a consistent and sustainable way otherwise you will quickly lose credibility. Finally, check that your proposition is firmly based on reliable consumer insights. Unless the brand is able to remain attractive and relevant to consumers' needs, the proposition will not have the desired effect.

Now that we have established the key ingredients of a powerful brand proposition, the next challenge is to actually put it down in writing. One of the most useful tips for marketers at this point is to go back to the primary school exercise of:

'Complete the following sentence'…

Take a stab at this one:

Only (brand) delivers (unique benefit) to (target customer).

This very simple but effective exercise reveals that even before you create your actual proposition, you need to have clearly identified who your target consumer is.

In order to be able to assert that your brand or service is truly unique or differentiated, it is vital to be aware of who your rivals are and what they are offering. Only once you have a clear understanding of the market or environment you are operating in, can you leverage your brand's particular assets to craft the proposition.

While in most instances you will not lay out the proposition in a word-for-word format, you need to find a way in which to communicate the true substance of it. For some marketers, a punchy pay-off line is the best way to capture the proposition and communicate it to consumers. The classic example of a successful pay-off line is Nike's "Just Do It", which is now recognised around the world.

This line is based on Nike's proposition of 'we bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world.' What makes this proposition so powerful, besides the creative aspect, is that it is reinforced in everything that Nike offers to its consumers.

Once you have clearly articulated the brand proposition, the final step is to define the brand's personality. The personality is essentially what 'experience' or journey your brand will provide. Keep in mind that a brand is not just a name. A brand is the 'reputation' or image that is conjured by consumers, which is a direct result of everything that they see, hear and feel about the brand. So once you have articulated your brand's personality, you will then be able to establish a specific style, tone, and attitude that will characterise every aspect of the communication going forward.

Another basic but extremely useful tip for crafting the brand personality is to pose the question:

If my brand is a person, how would I describe him/her?

For example, would he/she be described as friendly, entertaining, smart or honest?

Now that you know who your consumers are and what they need, try to think of the type of people they would like to engage with. Pinpoint several qualities of a respected/desired personality and use these to build your brand's unique personality. For example, maybe your target market places strong emphasis on transparency, authenticity, reliability, and passion. You would then use these assets to define the nature and image of your brand. Going back to Nike, they have built a global brand around being passionate, reliable, successful and intelligent - which is obviously what people around the world attribute great value to.

Having established the two most important aspects of your brand - the proposition and personality - you will leverage these components to take it to market (ie. when briefing an agency, crafting communication about your brand or business, designing packaging, recruiting people, launching a product or service, etc.). The proposition and personality are essentially your two most powerful tools which you will use to transform your brand into a living entity….so make them memorable!


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