Sir Richard Branson is someone who knows a thing or two about elevating a brand and rising above the noise.
In his own words, he wrote, “The key to generating loyalty and rising above the general noise seems to be all about creating an authentic voice.”
Brand Elevation and
Rising Above the Noise
There are nine strategic and tactical mistakes that can effectively kill any chance of having any voice at all and achieving brand elevation.
To have one of them uncorrected is bad. Three or four will drag your brand down and give your competition plenty of room to steal market share. Five or more of these is disastrous and will effectively kill your brand faster than a roomful of politicians. (The original draft of this list first appeared in one of my Fast Company blog posts, but I’ve updated it here to add that much more horsepower to the immediate usefulness of these nine points.)
Rules Enable You to Follow.
Knowledge Enables You to Lead.
Just look at the business section of any bookstore online or in an airport and you’ll see the ugly truth: there are way too many useless “should-do-this” rules and “shouldn’t-do-that” type of warnings that can leave your brand stagnant, complacent and simply dull.
Having a strong dislike for stagnation and lack of progress, I decided to write down some hard-earned tips that any brand could benefit from and immediately put to use.
9 Steps to Elevate Your Brand
- Your brand exists to differentiate. “Same crap, different day” won’t do it. A day that goes by without breaking some sacred branding rule is a day a brand has lost to rise above the status quo. By breaking those rules with insight, intelligent and innovation, your brand can get heard in a world that’s simply too busy to listen.
- We know there are thousands of ways to solve any branding problem a company faces, yet the only valuable solutions are the effective ones. Doing something ineffective in half the time–or “more efficiently” or “more economically”–isn’t progress, but is instead bad business. Very bad business.
- Social media isn’t a brand strategy. Social media is a channel. While it’s important for a brand to develop something to say, it’s more important to create something that will be heard.
- History is filled with inferior brands outselling superior ones thanks to better branding. Only superior branding has the power to overcome and reverse this (and superior products and services deserve superior branding).
- Customers have a first moment when they discover your brand. If you were to look at it today with a fresh pair of eyes, in fact only through a pair of fresh customer eyes and witness your brand for the very first time, what would you see? What impression would make? Or fail to make? Would your brand blend in? Would it stand out? Would it be memorable, or the leading cause of amnesia amongst shoppers everywhere? Facing the truth of this and fixing it as needed will determine whether your brand thrives or merely stumbles along.
- Why is it there’s no aisle in a grocery or department in a store or menu on a website for “average stuff” or “beige products”? FACT: People never got passionate about mediocre and average. While consumers and clients can find “best deals” and “natural foods” and “artisan goods,” one doesn’t find an aisle or a website menu tab offering “average stuff” without excelling in something (which might explain that while vanilla is necessary for the ice cream sundae, it’s the hot fudge we all crave and talk about). Seth Godin said it best when he stated:
“…the days when people were able to get above average pay for average work are over.
“If you’re the average person out there doing average work, there’s going to be someone else out there doing the exact same thing as you, but cheaper. Now that the industrial economy is over, you should forget about doing things just because it’s assigned to you, or ‘never mind the race to the top, you’ll be racing to the bottom.’ ”
- If your brand is a cliché, your brand is losing sales and growth. Why? If your brand is using clichés to promote itself, you’re promoting your “category,” not your unique, individual brand. Painful? Yes. Solvable? Absolutely.
- Brand growth and dominance is created by having the highest brand value, not the lowest price tag. As Steve Jobs told his employees in 1997:
“To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”
One can always sell something by offering the lowest price. But this does not create loyalty to your brand. Never did and never will. It only creates “loyalty” to that price point. As soon as your guest or visitor is offered a better price, he or she will jump ship, leaving you like a scorned lover in the middle of the night.
- Brands are either built on reruns or coming attractions. The future has no road map while the past does. Creating a brand that blazes new trails can sometimes be bumpy but will also allow you to be the first to discover something new, something meaningful and something that makes others ask, “Why didn’t we think of that?” Be very scared of “old tricks” and build a spirit of innovation. It’s the “old tricks” that have the highest risk, not doing something bold.
Use the above list to conduct a simple brand audit. The truth may hurt, but ignoring these brand mistakes will hurt far worse and far deeper than any surface wound the truth may inflict.
Brand Elevation and the Dead Weight of Committees
The only way to prevent the effectiveness of the above principles would be to form “a committee” to manage these nine principles.
This is the time to roll up your own sleeves because if it’s backed by your conviction, it will have more horsepower and more commitment.
And if you need some more added horsepower, let’s talk. We’ll help keep you focused and keep committees far, far away.
Photo credit Tumblr.