Brand and Focus

Brand and Focus

Over the years, I have been frequently asked what is the secret formula for a successful brand. What people really ask me is how to make your brand a global leader, like Coca-Cola.

Well sorry guys. There is no hidden magic in the brand building process. What building a successful brand is all about is following three simple principles. These form the crucial guidelines that will help you build a successful brand.

Branding is all about focus. When I say focus, I mean many things. But the most important points are:

· Your focus on a specific audience;

· What is reflected in your focus on specific values;

· Which is reflected in your clear focus in a specific tone of voice.

I know it sounds banal, but defining your unique target group is critical. Let me give you a couple of examples.

McDonald's has always been a family restaurant and never a hamburger joint. What is the difference? None. But the family approach is a positioning strategy that is reflected in everything the corporation does. McDonald's knows that by targeting families it reaches one of the most engaging and loyal consumer groups available - they enter parents' wallets through the minds of children. Knowing the strength of this strategy, it's no wonder McDonald's has become what it is. And by the way, audience focus doesn't mean McDonald's is missing out on attracting teens, tweens, or adult singles to its restaurants. Obviously, McDonald's restaurants are full of these types of consumer groups.  Imagine McDonald's targeting teenagers. Do you think families would appear?

A famous vodka brand decided to take targeting to the extreme by focusing on alternative audiences, such as the gay community in the USA. Reaching this community in the trendy bars of Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, the product became fashion and therefore attracted an increasingly wide audience. At this point, the vodka in question is one of the best-known brands in the world, but it has been raised in a very alternative context.

Having considered the importance of your brand's audience focus, let's look at your message. What does your brand mean? What imprints should you leave on the consumer's mind after exposure? What are your values? If I were to ask you what impressions come to mind when I mention the word "Lego", you would probably be talking about "a creative construction toy" or just "colored plastic bricks". If I mention "Rolex" I would probably respond with something like "high quality Swiss watch". "Mercedes Benz"? "A high-quality German car".

The principle is simple.  Don't be too ambitious. You cannot make the consumer say everything they want. For example, you probably didn't say "Just imagine." when I asked you to respond to the Lego concept, even though that's the slogan for the product today. Focus on your brand values   and communicate them consistently.

That's the third important factor in a healthy brand strategy: consistency of communications. Being consistent means conveying your brand message using a tone of voice that becomes recognizable as the voice of your brand - communicating your brand values   to your target audience day after day, year after year, everywhere, on! any place! A good rule of thumb to consider is this: When you start to feel sick and tired of your brand's message and voice, your connection to consumer recognition is probably just beginning. Remember, you are exposed to your brand thousands of times more often than your customers. So don't let your own frequency of exposure affect your communication decisions.

Consistency is applicable in all facets of your brand's consumer communication strategy: make sure your brand addresses your audience consistently, communicates the same message, embodies and conveys the same values, that is displayed with the same vocabulary, nomenclature, design elements and graphics at all times.

Many companies fail the consistency prerequisite, even large ones who would think they would know how to handle this fundamental branding challenge. Take Swissair for example. Each of these sub-identities is accompanied by a version of the Swissair logo, although they all fly internationally. I'm sure there is a logical reason behind the comp's divergent branding strategy.

air year. But I wonder if Swissair customers get it.

So why didn't I define design consistency as a factor in its own right - the graphic design, the logo, the look around the brand? Well, because these elements are not what create the brand. They support you and can help accelerate recognition and therefore accelerate the brand