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Follow These 4 Key Branding Principles

Key branding principles

Follow these 4 key branding principles when building your brand

Branding Principle No. 1.

brain with right arrow

Brand Share of Mind (Rational). These are logical, physical features or attributes that are rational and appeal to the mind:

  • Tangible
  • Functional
  • Features
  • Measurable
  • Analytic

Branding Principle No. 2.

2. Differentiation. Your brand essence must be unique, not replaceable. You must own a single idea. See the previous week’s blog post for how to figure out your brand’s core essence or attribute.

For example, you will never hear:

  • “I picked it because it was exactly like every other car I test-drove.
  • “We bought it because it was exactly like every other house on the street.
  • “I married him because he was exactly like every other guy I dated.

Most importantly, create a new value curve to make your brand stand out from everyone else. The Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas advises that you compete on attributes that your competitors have failed to serve. For years high growth companies have entered markets by first catering to an underserved niche market.

For instance, Netflix started by mailing cult classic films that you couldn’t get at Blockbuster, Vimeo focused on professional videographers unlike YouTube, and Tesla started making luxury vehicles instead of competing with electric low-end hybrids. This strategy of differentiation is key for disruptive start-ups and established companies.

Branding Principle No. 3.

Share of Heart (Feelings) These are the attributes that appeal to people’s feelings or emotions.

  • Intangible
  • Benefits
  • Experiences
  • Judgmental
  • Intuitive
Share of heart

Branding Principle No. 4.

Relevance. There is no point in identifying an essence that is irrelevant to your audience. Essences that don’t connect are the reason behind many failed brands. Research to make sure you nail this down.

In conclusion

Test your brand against these 4 branding principles to make sure that your brand has a solid, well-grounded foundation that will appeal to people and fend off the competition. If you have any gaps, identify what is missing in your brand essence. Use it by consistently incorporating it into your messaging.

In addition, you may want to ask your customers what they think and feel about your brand. Global companies with large market research budgets do this all the time to make sure that their branding resonates with their target audiences. Likewise, follow their example, even if it means something and inexpensive as simple as picking up the phone and talking to your customer!

Discover Your Brand Essence

Discover your brand essence

What is brand essence?

Every strong brand stands for something—one differentiating attribute.

Some call it brand essence. Others call it the brand. Or any of these…

  • SOUL
  • HEART
  • MANTRA
  • PROMISE
  • SIGNATURE STRENGTH
  • CORE STRENGTH
  • CORE ATTRIBUTE
  • DESCRIPTION
  • PERSONALITY
  • DIFFERENTIATOR
  • EXPERIENCE
  • CONNECTION
  • LIFE FORCE
  • UNIQUENESS
  • INDIVIDUALITY
  • MEANING
  • CENTRAL NATURE
  • VALUE PROPOSITION

Why is a core attribute important?

Your brand essence or core attribute gives your audience the primary reason to choose your brand over competitors’ brands. Your brand personality captures what your audience feels when they experience your brand.

Examples of well-known brands:

  • Apple – The Apple essence is innovation.
  • Volvo – The Volvo essence is safety. “Driving a Volvo makes me feel that my family is safe.”
  • Jeep – Their essence is adventurous.
  • Disney – The Disney essence is magic for everyone. “Experience the Magic Kingdom.”
  • Harley-Davidson – Their essence is liberating, freedom and independence – be a rebel.
  •  VISA – Their essence is reliability everywhere.

What is YOUR true brand essence?

 A strong car brand can create significant value in the automotive industry. The price consumers expect to pay for otherwise identical luxury vehicles can vary as much as $4,000, depending on the car’s brand. For mass-market cars, brand helps determine which products a consumer considers buying. Furthermore, superior brands extend their halo across every model of vehicle within the brand. It’s no surprise that most auto manufacturers make brand positioning and development a key item on their marketing agenda.

Volvo = Safety and reliability.

Tesla = Luxury and state-of-the art electric car technology.

Porsche = Sporty performance.

Lamborghini = Exotic luxury performance.

Ries & Ries

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

 A brand becomes stronger… when you narrow its focus.

The bottom line as you brand yourself and your business

Tap into what your audience feels.

Be single-minded. Stand for something and own it. One word to describe your essence is ideal. Maybe two. More than two words indicates that the brand has no focus.

Because a brand (by design) delivers a unique experience, having no focus makes for a weak brand.

Your brand essence must be authentic and credible, or your audience will not believe you. To find out what your audience believes about your brand, ask them. How did people react to your car brand description during the ice-breaker? Did they believe you? Or was it a stretch for them? How hard was it for you to zoom in on the words you chose to describe yourself?

(It’s okay for the brand essence to be aspirational, but only if your audience believes you can deliver on the promise.)

Haloway Consulting brand essence word cloud

Haloway Consulting brand essence word cloud

Build your brand essence

  1. Pick out 3-5 words that you think and feel best describe you and your business. Use a word cloud tool, word sheets or the resources below to collect words that describe your brand. Can you narrow it to one or two words that you can authentically own and defend?

Here are a few resource links to help:

Brand voice test: Do these words pass the sniff test? If people can't tell who's talking when your logo or trademark is covered, then your brand's voice is not distinctive enough.

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