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What makes a great brand… what is included and how does it work?

Every business, no matter the size nor the industry, needs a cohesive brand platform to establish their brand and to guide all branding and marketing decisions.

A brand platform is a coordinated system of practical, precise definitions that reflects a companies authentic and distinctive qualities – those qualities that differentiates them in the mind of the customer and the market of the business. But, before we can elaborate , we need to take a step back and first break down the premise of what a brand truly is.

A brand is often perceived as the logo or identity of a product or business. But actually, it’s far more than that. A ‘Brand’ can be defined as the emotional relationship (even connection) between customers and the business. A company’s brand is thus a customer’s gut feeling towards that company while the brand identity is what you can see. Brand identity is more tangible and appeals to the senses. It fuels recognition, amplifies differentiation, and makes big ideas and meaning accessible.

So, if a brand is the ‘relationship’ and brand identity is the ‘design’, then you might have already guessed that branding is the ‘process’ of it all. Branding is far more than just the visual components of your business.

In our journey to demystify branding into a simple, understandable concept, we have spent years doing research. We have tried, tested and ultimately implemented proven theories, methodologies, and recommended practices to find the right framework or platform for building brands.

Through our in-depth discovery process, we found a variety of well-established and self-crafted models for building successful brands. However, these models are somewhat perplexed, dated and really hard to translate into layman’s terms.


Abstract Thinking

Around the end of the 5th century, the study of human physiology began in Ancient Greece. They applied critical thinking and placed emphasis on the relationship between structure and function within the human body. We used this study to drive our abstract thinking and outline a new model for building brands. With this understanding we could form a logical comparison between brands and the structure of human anatomy. We concluded that all brands need various parts to ensure both structure and function to make the ‘body’ fully functional.



In this article, we will be dissecting the anatomy of a brand into 11 key components. Components that we believe all companies should focus to ensure they are building a successful brand for long-term success. These 11 components can be split into three categories: structure, stability and movement.

Structure


1. Purpose
Your brand purpose is the meaning behind your company’s existence. It is an idealistic view of what your business wants to become to your audience and customer. Example | Coca-Cola: “The purpose of The Coca-Cola Company is to refresh the world and make a difference”
2. Promise
A brand promise is a statement or commitment you make to your customers stating what the customers can expect from your products or services. This is in terms of the benefits and experience- the tangible and the intangible. Example | Apple: “Think different.” Apple’s brand promise is two-sided: their guarantee to create products based on seeing the world a little differently, and their promise to inspire their customers to do the same.
3. Positioning
Brand positioning is the process of positioning your brand in the mind of your customers and it is how your business differentiates itself from competitors. Example | Nike: “For serious athletes, Nike gives confidence that provides the perfect shoe for every sport”. This positioning statement from Nike is simple, direct, and tangible. It speaks to their target audience in a clear and concise manner.
4. Values
Brand values are a set of guiding principles that affect the choices your business makes and the actions it takes. Your values establish the qualities you as a company idealise. Example | Facebook: (1) Be Bold (2) Focus on Impact (3) Move Fast (4) Be Open (5) Build Social Values

Stability

5. Brand Essence
Brand Essence is the heart and soul of the brand – the reliable feeling customers come to expect when engaging with a particular brand. Examples: (1) BMW = Driving Pleasure (2) Walt Disney = Magical (3) De Beers = Forever (4) Coca-Cola = Happiness
6. Personality
Brand personality is what makes your business ‘human’ in the eyes of your potential customers. It is a set of human characteristics attributed to a brand. A brand can serve as a person’s personal statement even if that person was stranded on a desert island. Example | Nike: The personality of Nike is excitement and active lifestyle Nike has an inspirational, exciting and cool personality. Nike, as a person, would be exciting, provocative, spirited, cool, innovative, aggressive, and into health and fitness
7. Tone of Voice
The tone of voice is the expression and embodiment of your brand’s personality, beliefs, and values — the person behind the brand. Your tone is not only about how you speak, but also the words you use and even how you use them. Examples | Mailchimp: Mailchimp speaks to its customers in a tone that is informal, but not inappropriate and never snobbish. The Mailchimp brand voice is clear and genuine, with a bit of dry humour. Their brand voice guidelines explain, rather brilliantly, how to use offbeat humour and a conversational tone to write empowering content.
8. Brand Story
A brand story is a cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings that are created by your brand (or business, if you prefer). Unlike traditional advertising, which is about showing and telling people about your brand, a brand story must inspire an emotional reaction. Example | Nike: Nike tells a story that everyone who has a body is an athlete and you need not be a star on the court or the field to earn that label. Co-founder Bill Bowerman once said: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Nike sees sports as a universal language that transcends cultures, borders and barriers. The Nike story is based on a hero archetype, but instead of its audiences competing against outside forces, Nike understands that we all battle our inner self. It is something that we can relate to universally and it hits a strong emotional pain point for all of us. Nike inspires you to go out and take action. They make you feel victorious.

Movement

9. Strategy
Brand strategy is a plan that incorporates specific, long-term goals that can be achieved with the evolution of a successful brand. A well-defined and executed brand strategy includes all aspects of the brand anatomy and affects every part of a business. A brand strategy is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions and competitive context. Example | Strategy Framework: (A) Purpose = Vision, Values (B) Positioning = Target Audience, Market Research, Competitor Analysis (C) = Identity, Personality, Voice, Touch Points
10. Identity
A brand identity is a tangible component and appeals to the senses. It is what you see and it is a set of visual tools or elements used by a business to create a brand image. Brand identity stems from brand strategy and it is long term goals which is created in contextual relevance to the values and interests of the target audience. Example | Logo Mark, Logo WordMark, Typography System, Colour Palette, Visual Language, Imagery, Design Systems etc.
11. Touchpoints
Brand touchpoints can be defined as those interactions and exposures that a consumer can have with a brand. Brand touchpoints are very broadly defined and include both deliberate communications from a brand as well as those communications and interactions that the consumer will have with the brand in the course of their everyday life. Example | Website, Social Media, Direct Mail, PR, Apps, Print, Surveys, Sales Channels, Promotions, Printed Collateral and many more.

There you have it: the full anatomy of what a brand is, dissected into 11 key components to help you build a successful brand.

Remember: that a brand platform can help guide every aspect of your business. From management and sales teams to creative departments, your brand platform should be accessible by all employees, and must be clearly understood before undertaking any new marketing strategy or messaging.


The benefits of having a brand platform are far reaching for both you and your customers. We urge you to start working on your brand platform and to use this article as a guide for building an in-depth framework to ensure a successful brand.


If you enjoyed the reading and you are thinking about taking control of your brand’s success, why not chat to our team?
Contact them at info@urbanjava.co.za

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