Guest blog: The basics of building a brand

Mark Artus is the CEO of one of Europe's leading branding agencies, 1 HQ, that counts Unilever, Nestle and Marks & Spencer among its clients. You can ask him questions live and read more advice from him in our branding surgery this Friday at 12pm.

It doesn't matter what size your business is, the principles of brand development remain the same. Big or small, a brand is a brand. You have to go through the exact same processes to make sure that the brand you're creating has a unique proposition - and that, hopefully, it's a better idea than anyone else's. Whether you are IBM, Virgin or average Joe, the process is all the same.

Put very simply: know who you are, know where you're going and know where you want to be. You need to have an ability to recognise a seminal moment - and it helps to be a little insurgent.

Brands are complex. They should reflect both your personality and your tone-of-voice.

It's easy to forget that we human beings are brands too. Whether you're a person or a business, the image that you project is a brand image for all to see, so it's important to get it right. Every action or comment counts - positively or negatively. The way we act, the way we behave, what we do, what we say, how we want people to think about us - that's a brand. If you're a small businesses thinking in these terms, you're going to do better at the end of the day.

Small or large, you are still a brand. You have to make sure you go through a full process and know that your brand is more than a logo.

You need to find the best way to communicate; know your customer; do what you say; take a distinctive stance; expand your customer knowledge; remember emotions; not abandon your founding principles; maintain focus; and finally, create trust. (There are no shortcuts in brand building.)

But this is only the beginning. The next challenge is perhaps the hardest: how do you instill your brand DNA and inspire your team, and turn them into believers? And then do the same for the people that you hope will use your product?

Within any business, you need to instill your brand philosophy and beliefs into your staff. That's often the biggest problem businesses face. Whether you are a team of one or 100, you all need to be working toward the same goal - you need to feel part of something. Get this right, and an advocate of one can soon become a following of thousands over night.

In today's climate branding is a tricky business, but creating trust both internally and externally will drive success.

Lastly, too much time is spent coming up with answers, and not enough ensuring we've asked the right question in the first place. Success comes in many different guises, and many a good idea has fallen foul of poor financial planning, or just simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The brand building process, if done correctly, will ensure that the right steps are taken, but will never compensate for a bad idea or poor timing. So before you start, count to five and focus on the one hard question your brand or new idea is facing this year.

Get more advice from Mark in our live branding surgery this Friday at 12pm (click the link to set a reminder and find out more).


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