The 4 pillars of a successful brand

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If someone had to ask you to choose between brands - such as Apple or Samsung; Puma or Adidas - it will take you seconds to pick your favourite. But why? Both make functioning mobile phones or durable running shoes. All have strong, recognisable logos.

When it comes to brands, it’s all about emotions. “The thing that makes you have that quick response, is a feeling. A brand is a gut feeling - you don’t analyse the pros and cons, you just like it,” says Katerina Karamallaki.  

Kat, BRND WGN’s former Head of Creative, together with Creative Strategy Director Charlotte Seymour addressed a crowd who attended BRND WGN’s For the Love of Brand Building workshop  - the second in the ‘For the love of’ series. 

The event was aimed at those seeking to kick-start the brand building process by understanding the basics. During the workshop, Kat and Charlotte shed light on the key pillars of a successful brand. 

These four pillars will ensure you build a brand on solid foundations. However, they’ll only stand strong if they are made of passion - your passion for your brand. 

1. Vision - Start with ‘Why’

Branding is not just about having an awesome logo or a witty tagline. The starting point of a strong brand runs much deeper. It lies at the very roots. It starts with the ‘Why’.

As Simon Sinek put it: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Just have a look at the recent US election campaign. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was spot-on in terms of brand identity. But can anyone remember what she stood for? Now think of Donald Trump. The words “Make America Great Again” will pop into your mind - like it or not. His purpose was crystal clear and people related to it.

In other words, it’s your ‘Why’ that will trigger that (sometimes irrational) emotion that will drive people towards your brand. Because, quoting Sinek again, people trust people and companies that believe what they believe. 

2. Actions - Live your ‘Why’ 

Once you’ve pinned down your purpose, the next step is to make sure it’s communicated throughout your brand. “It’s all well and good having a ‘Why’, but it has to be championed. If you don’t filter that through your whole culture, it’s just words on paper,” says Charlotte. 

Here’s where you stop to ask yourself: What do you do? How do you add value? It’s important that your answers tie in with your purpose. 

“Being different really does stem from ‘Why,’” says Charlotte as she goes on to give an example of a brand that truly lives its purpose - Patagonia. With a purpose centred around building the best product while reducing its environmental footprint, Patagonia puts its money where its mouth is. In a bold marketing move, it urges customers not to buy new Patagonia clothing and supports them to fix their worn out garments.

3. Expression - Find your voice

“One thing we always tell our clients is that you can’t be everything to everyone. You need to know who you’re talking to, or your messages will get confused,” says Charlotte. 

Knowing who your audience is makes it easier to craft your tone of voice - the way your brand’s character comes through. “Tone of voice is more than just about copy. It’s emitted through everything, including the design and colours you use. A well crafted tone of voice will set your apart from the rest. Speaking in a consistent voice also helps build trust in your brand,” says Kat.

4. Experience - Explore your customers’ journey 

An important step is ensuring that your customers’ experience is consistent throughout the entire brand. You do this by identifying your brand touch-points. 

One obvious touch-point is the in-store experience - the design of your shop, the messaging used, as well as the overall ambiance like lighting, smell and sound. Other touch points are your staff and your brand’s social media channels.

People will pick up on inconsistencies and this will impact their trust in your brand. “Today business has become everyone’s businesses. Authenticity is no longer optional,”  says Charlotte. 

By communicating your purpose through well-designed brand touch-points, she adds, you can create a recognisable brand that is first in mind when people talk about your industry.