“We live in an age where information is the greatest commodity and your brand is now your greatest asset in our intangible market.”
What is a brand?
It doesn’t matter if your company operates on an international, national, regional, state, city, or neighborhood level; no matter the size, you have a brand. It really doesn’t matter if you have invested millions or nothing at all in your brand, it still exists. Your brand is the heart of your company; it is what comes to the minds and hearts of consumers and employees when they think of your business. Every time anyone interacts with anything that has to do with your company it is reinforcing an idea about your business. So your brand is much, much more complex than just your logo and the colors you choose to put on your website. Your brand is so much larger, and it impacts your business on every level.
Especially when companies are starting up, it is common for them to skip over the whole branding conversation. After all, there are product lines to develop, services to perfect, and sales to be made. But I would argue that every company should start by answering two questions: Who are we and why are we doing this? This is the core of your brand, and it will set the stage for everything else.
Why is Your Brand Important?
Let’s dig deeper into the brand question and explore how it affects the different areas of your company.
Part of a strong brand is knowing what sets you apart from your competition. This should become a cornerstone in your company’s messaging both externally through marketing and also internally. Your employees should be just as aware of what makes their business different and be able to take pride in how what they are doing every day makes a difference.
Consumers and staff alike have access to more information than ever before. They have more choices, so it becomes even more critical that your company knows that it knows that it knows why it is different. And let me give you a tip here, in our current marketing economy, it is not about the “best” product or service. It is about the experience, the relationship. Take Apple for example. They have built such a strong brand around their products that their fans will stand in line, camp out overnight even to get their new devices. There is a culture that has evolved around Apple fans or Apple fanatics. They will pay more for Apple products just because they are Apple products. Apple carefully cultivated this brand and developed the fan base the followed the brand.
When you are looking at the value of your business, you must always consider both tangible and intangible assets. Successful organizations know that their brand is one of their most valuable intangible assets. Every year, Interbrand ranks the best brands around the world on their value. How do some of our favorites rank? The Lego brand comes in 67th with a brand name value of almost $6.7 million. Nike ranks 18th with a brand value at $25 million. Disney’s brand name is worth almost $39 million dollars. Amazon ranks 8th but has the fastest growing brand name value at $50.3 million and 33% growth in 2016. Who were the top three? Coca-Cola took home the 3rd place spot with a value of $73.1 million; Google captured the second place spot, their brand is considered to be worth $133,252 million dollars. And drum roll please…… Apple stands alone on in the first place spot with a brand name value of $178,119 million dollars.
Now if you’re running a small to medium sized business like me, you might wonder what all of these big names have to do with you. Granted these are some pretty impressive numbers. They illustrate on a brand scale what a brand name can be worth when a company invested in developing the brand. The same principle applies to any business regardless of their size. The difference in the value of the brand between known competitors Coca-Cola and Pepsi is staggering. Coca-Cola’s $73.1 million is more than three times what Pepsi’s brand name is worth at $20.3 million. The companies both started in the 1890’s a mere five years apart, and yet in the last 120 plus years, Coca-Cola has consistently had a stronger brand. Why? They invested heavily in their company brand.
I believe one of the foundational reasons why brands like Coca-Cola and Apple have consistently beat out their competition is because they understand that the brand is part of what guides their company. Their brand answers the question why. Why does the company exist? Why do employees want to work there? Why should consumers buy a Coke versus a Pepsi?
Every company, no matter the size, should be able to answer the why questions on a deeper level than just “because we’re better.” Anyone can say that it’s a surface answer. You have to go deeper, you have to understand why you are coming to work every day, why your employees should (beyond the paycheck), and why your clients keep coming back.
Salim Ismail, lately of Singular University, writes in his book Exponential Organizations about the importance of a Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP). The MTP is the “higher, aspirational purpose of the organization,” it does not try to capsulize what the company or organization does, but rather it articulates what you are aspiring to accomplish! This is the heart of your brand, not the colors or even the logo, but the why, the purpose of the company!
Increase Client Longevity-
Your brand makes promises to customers, fans, and prospects. In every way your company interacts with and communicates with the public, you are either reinforcing that promise or weakening, maybe even breaking it. When that promise is reinforced, time and time again, your customers know what to expect and that builds longevity and loyalty. Let’s take Coca-Cola for example. Their brand consistency is legendary, while they have updated parts of their messaging, they have never ventured from reinforcing their core message. According to their website, this is their mission, their MTP.
- To refresh the world…
- To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…
- To create value and make a difference.
Again and again, Coca-Cola has proved it can connect emotionally with its customer base. It has bridged 7-8 generations! That’s some serious customer longevity!
There are many other reasons why it is critical that you invest time and effort developing your brand. Check out some of our other blogs on branding for more information or give us a call, we’re happy to provide a free consultation.