Today there is a lot of talk about building a brand. It seems like brands pop up over night, especially on the web. Most brands, however, take years to become established. Some companies even buy up defunct brands because they may still have some brand equity that may be harder to build than acquire.
Gaining traction in the marketplace can be expensive and requires great tenacity over a sustained period. Here are some of the building blocks all brands must consider if they want to be “household words”:
1. The Logo. Much more than a cute image, the logo must be easy to understand, relate to the product or its benefit, be appropriate for its genre, and be memorable.
2. The Catch Phrase. Must be short, and clearly convey a benefit. It must be easy to say and remember, identify the product or service, and convey a feeling of satisfaction to the customer.
3. The Promise. The attribute that distinguishes the product or service and communicates dependability, value, consistency, and trust. The customer must feel that the promise to deliver has been consistently kept.
4. Value. The customer must continue to perceive that he receives more value than the money he paid. Value perception is the key to long term customer loyalty.
5. The Identity. When the customer sees the logo, he immediately recognizes it and knows what it represents in commercial terms. He knows its promise and its value, as well as its position relative to the competition.
6. The Packaging. Must be well thought out to satisfy a myriad of marketing and distribution requirements, including the perception of value by the end users and all the practical considerations required to get it to them.
7. The Distribution System. The product must be positioned to fit into the existing distribution system. This includes pricing, discounts, comparable products, category management, and delivery systems to various markets.
8. The Publicity. The brand must get the word out about its existence, promise, value and availability. This can be done through conventional advertising, networking, third-party endorsements and articles, influencers, or Worthy Cause Marketing.
9. The Feedback. No brand is perfect and all brands have to remain relevant over time. How they collect and use feedback from their end-users can make or break them. Customer service is much more than satisfying complaints; it’s a gold mine of information to marketing and production if used properly.
10. The Image. What the brand stands for and how it is viewed by the market at every level – from the distribution system, to the retailer, to the eventual consumer – is critical to its long-term success. Brands must stand for value and dependability, first and foremost, but they must also stand for integrity in their business dealings, labor relations, carbon footprint, and community support.
11. The Tenure. The length of time the brand consistently delivers its valuable attributes to the consumer ultimately determines its brand equity. Gaining traction beyond “push” and “pull” is only possible over time. History is the key ingredient that makes everything else done right stick.
This subject can be sliced and diced in a number of ways, but this very brief summary gives you the foundation for building a brand. We look forward to your comments.
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders