MWH Public Relations (MWHPR) is in the business of telling our clients’ stories. We leverage branding to broadcast our clients’ best assets and abilities. Their target audience becomes engaged with captivating content and vivid imagery that is consistent in both theme and purpose. This allows the target audience to associate the brand with the client’s value proposition. Think of branding like a puzzle where the intricate pieces are the key branding elements; logo, message, look and feel. If one piece of the puzzle does not fit, the entire branding strategy will more than likely fail to resonate with your customers.
Successful companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Coke understand this analogy and have become a staple in the lives of many of their customers. According to the International Brand of Consulting, they lead the world’s most valuable brands. Simon Edwards, Brand Manager at 3M, credits their success to the five criteria of expert branding; uniqueness, message clarity, consistency, relevancy, and endurance. “They each deliver feelings that consumers just can’t get from other brands,” said Edwards.
These one-of-a-kind brands do something that many fail to replicate. They connect with their customers on an emotional level. Author Marc Globe of Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People, said, “A brand needs human qualities and emotional values. It needs to have a personality.” A distinct personality serves as a brand’s key differentiator in today’s competitive landscape. Some brands might share similar prices and product features but it is often difficult to duplicate a unique persona.
A brand, however, cannot stand on personality alone. Other factors also play an integral role. It all goes back to what a brand is and what it encompasses. According to Steve McNamara of AdCracker.Com, “A brand is the sum of all feelings, thoughts, and recognitions - positive and negative - that people in the target audience have about a company, product or service." How these perceptions are communicated is paramount to a brand’s durability. The core message has to remain consistent so customers realize the validity behind it. Apple is the perfect example. From the beginning, Apple’s brand proposition has always been to
supply advanced, good quality, high performing computers. This message has never changed. To follow suit, other brands must be relentless in their consistency to stay current in the minds of their customers.
Brand consistency is where a business attempts to communicate in such a way that doesn’t detract or wander away from its promise. Every piece of marketing material is like a member of the same family, supporting and even looking similar to each other. The brand has its own unique look and feel that links back to the brand proposition distinguishing it from other competing brands. The fact that the brand is easily recognizable garners customer trust and loyalty, simply by being familiar.
One company that disregarded the rule of consistency was Gap. Gap switched out their logo for a simple logo that contained Helvetica text spelling the word Gap and a blue square. The buzz hit the internet, and many called it a step back, a branding failure, and the worst example of Word art that had ever been seen. One week after the introduction of the logo, Gap returned to its roots and reinstated the original Gap logo.
Just as consistency makes up a strong brand so does its meaning and relevance. A brand must resonate with its target audience and be compelling enough to impact purchasing behavior. The customer has to believe their brands make a significant difference in their lives. Companies like Coca-Cola learned a hard lesson when it introduced “New Coke” in 1985. Due to overwhelming public outcry, the original Coca-Cola Classic later returned to the store shelves. Those hoarding as many as 900 bottles in their basements could stop their self-imposed rationing. When all was said and done, Coca-Cola lost a lot of money, not to mention Prestige
by trying to be like their competitors instead of listening to their most precious commodity-the customer.
While there are many factors that contribute to a successful brand, it is the ability to endure that determines a brand’s staying power. In a global economy subject to changing market dynamics and heightened competition, your brand has to engage your target audience and appeal to their desires and expectations. Your unique selling proposition must stand on its own merits positioning your brand as the one and only choice.