How to build a successful brand

Anne Candido is a veteran of brand building. She spent 20 years shaping brands at Procter & Gamble, looking at both product development and influencer marketing. She is the founder of Go for 2, a brand “love” building consultancy aimed at enhancing consumer-to-brand relationships. She is also the author of a brand-building handbook for start-ups and small businesses: The Super-Highway of Relevancy. Getting More People to Choose Your Brand, More Often, Indefinitely.

Here, she explains the six steps you need to take in order to build a successful brand and have your customers fall “helplessly in love” with it.

1/ Understand your brand identity

The Super-Highway of Relevancy

“Too many people kick this discussion down the road when they should be cultivating their identity from the beginning. If you want to connect with consumers, it is essential that you know who you are first. You need to address three critical questions that are imperative for everything that you’re going to do. And that is: Who am I? Why am I different? And why would a consumer want me?

“A lot of businesses will give very simplistic, generalist answers to those those questions, but I advise them to dig deep so that they can create a infrastructure and a framework for their business based on these answers. That way everything – from your marketing to your business decisions – comes from your core identity. It just naturally creates a plan for your business that allows you to prioritise the right things.”

2/ Establish your core values

“More and more, consumers and employees are searching for brands that align with their values and ethics. It is so important that you understand yours early on in the process. This is the guide from which you are going to operate. This is where your work culture comes from. Even if you’re in 50 different countries, there’s always that common thread of what you’re aligned behind. What is your bigger purpose? What is your mission that everybody can get behind? So that everybody can really unify and move together, you need to get an understandable mission and a set of values established. Otherwise, you have all these fragmented silos, and nobody’s working together. That will just dilute your brand and your business.”

3/ Create a “brand-love connection”

“What brands need to remember is that 90 per cent of consumer decisions are emotionally led. So, what you have to be striving for is creating that brand-love connection. People will be engaging with your brand on such a personal basis; they will buy and be loyal to your brand if they connect with it. The aim is to foster that connection as best you can. It’s a really big shift in mindset, because most businesses are so focused on product delivery, product performance benefits, service benefits… We’re all very concerned about how do we sell. And what I try to get brands to see is that what you sell is not just what you put a price tag on; it’s that emotional benefit that your product or service delivers.”

4/ Leverage your relationship with customers to create value

“Once you have successfully built that brand connection you need to build on a relationship with your consumers, and that is an ongoing thing. That relationship is what you can then leverage in order to create value, and when you can create value, then you can command higher prices. A good connection means a good reputation, and this attracts more consumers, with more loyalty, who generate more impact. Look at a brand like Nike, which is an apparel brand – they started with shoes. People don’t view them as merely a shoe brand at all. People love and covet that brand, because of what the ethos is that they surround it with. They have engineered their brand in a way that you want to be part of that. That is a mindset that any business can have, from the small start-ups to the billion-dollar brands.”

5/ Get on the “superhighway to relevancy”

“This is an expression I have coined that describes the path that you define, that gets you from where you are to your consumer, as quickly and as efficiently as possible. When we’re creating those paths, we tend to have a tendency to follow somebody else’s road. Now what happens, especially if you happen to be a small brand, is that you get stuck in a traffic jam, because all these other businesses are also trying to travel on your highway. What this means for small and midsize businesses is that they tend to run out of money before they can actually get to their consumer in a very efficient way. And so, what I preach is that you have to create your own superhighway. And that means understanding what makes you relevant in a way that can drive the quickest and most efficient connection to your consumer so that you can most efficiently spend your money and you can get the best ROI from it. Essentially, forge a path to your consumer that is relevant to your brand; don’t follow the template of someone else’s.”

6/ Invest in good leadership

“Everything starts and ends with the leader. A lot of leaders will defer their leadership, and that I think, is the biggest recipe for disaster. From a culture standpoint, you need to have strong and present leadership to make sure that all the core values and identity of the brand are holding together. That way, you get more out of your people, you get better work and your team feels they have more ownership over the whole mission.”

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