22 DEC 2014
Today, the high quality of a product or rendering a good service are no longer enough to guarantee the success of a business. The brand makes the difference: it distinguishes from competitors and adds value to an offer.
Producing a high quality product is no longer sufficient to compete on the market or to ensure the survival and development of a company, since this can be easily cloned and its quality is often taken for granted by the client/ consumer.
The way to sell has changed in the third millennium: the more you try to convince someone to buy, the more you are risking to obtain the opposite effect. In fact, paradoxically, the more you exalt the advantages and virtues of a product, the more you create doubts on the business proposal, generating distrust.
So, what can we do? Nowadays, you must avoid trying to convince, but you must evoke a perception and only the brand can fulfil such a particular task, helping entrepreneurs to disentangle from tough competitors, crisis and constant price wars.
This is the secrets handbook for a successful brand:
1. Brand is not a logo
In order to create a brand, you must first of all know exactly what it is, starting from the basic terminology: the words ‘’brand’’ and ‘’logo’’. The brand corresponds to the conceptual essence that is instilled in people’s minds (if we think of Virgin for example, we imagine values of cheerfulness and amusement, despite referring to a flight or gym). The logo instead is the visual and textual device that renders a brand ‘’tangible’’ (elements like the name, logotype, symbol, colors, etc. constitute the logo).
2. The brand helps doing business
Innovating is important but real new products or services are not always invented, such to ‘’be sold on their own’’ and, even in these rare cases, the brand is essential to capitalize in time, the fact to have been the first on the market. You must never make the mistake to think to be the best or believe that nobody else will ever create something similar.
Copying a well-conceived brand instead, is much more difficult because – better than the product – is able to convey emotional values and facilitate communication, thus distinguishing from competitors. In fact, the operational task of the brand is not only to identify a property and distinguish a product or firm, but also to involve people.
3. The first product to sell is your brand
In order to implement a business strategy aimed at asserting a brand, it is necessary to evolve the firm’s business mentality. Selling a brand means to decide first of all, the type of ‘’personality’’ that must be embodied, that is the imaginary that will last forever. This law is valid for basic commodities, such as for example a mobile telephone service and also for a business-to-business firm, such as a machining workshop (Italian firm Alkiria proposes itself as the «Goddess of Precision», transforming the way they are perceived, from simple turners to something more evocative).
4. A brand is worth more than one thousand products
When starting-up an activity or managing a business, it is useful to consider that the most important asset for a firm nowadays is the brand, which – in most cases – exceeded the economic-financial value of the product itself. Why? Because if a firm focuses on developing and growing the brand’s imaginary, fulfilling the minimum quality and functional requirements of a product, it will be able in time to renew or integrate its offer without making any other investment to reassure the market. The brand’s immortality is thus achieved, even if the sold product will change one day.
5. The brand must embody a credo
It is not sufficient for a firm or product brand-mark to be renowned in order to be called a ‘’brand’’, as well as greater popularity is not a requirement to become a brand. A brand, by definition, embodies a specific way of being and thinking, trying paradoxically not to be too explicitly linked to the product. This means that a brand must have an independent life, as if it was a person. In fact, as a person, the brand can evolve in time, remaining – in its deepest identity – always the same.
6. The brand must excite its public
An emotional aspect concerning human nature is communicated by embodying a Credo and declaring a way of being, because applicable at global level and independent from social and cultural variables. This way, consistency of thought is created so that the client/ consumer does not feel constantly victim of a business proposal. Thus the brand develops its own role in society, being part of people’s real life who will then positively associate a brand with what it proposes. Not only in terms of trust and quality – requirements linked to the product and service – but also in terms of interior affinity.
7. The brand must have the right name
A critical point, often essential for the success of a business, is the name of the brand. A wrong name fails to emotionally involve its public and requires further advertising investments to compensate the limits. What’s the ideal name? Short is certainly better – in order to be remembered –, consisting of a single word, easy to pronounce and respectful towards its own market. But above all, let’s say how it MUST NOT be: descriptive. In fact, many entrepreneurs make the mistake to think that the name must explain what the firm sells or what the product does. Nothing more wrong than this. A name, in line with the defined Credo and brand strategy, must impose an original personality and become part of the people’s imaginary.
8. The brand must have an effective logo
The modern logo, as for the naming, must not describe neither explain the product, nor can longer be a trivial graphic mark or pictogram. It must boast charisma, like for example the logo of the mythical bitten apple of Apple or the six-leg dog/dragon of Eni. The iconography of these symbols boasts unique appeal and evocative ability.
In order to design a functional brand-mark – in addition to comply with basic rules of synthesis, simplicity and reproducibility – it is important to carefully choose the elements that constitute it. For example the colors that on one hand, evoke sensations at global level, stimulating the nervous system of all human beings, and on the other, they must be selected at international level, according to culture and beliefs.
9. The brand must be managed with coherence
How would you react if a friend of yours suddenly changes his personality and way of thinking? Most likely, after making sure it is the same person, you would think about a sudden mental illness. Therefore, for a person, the brand must have a coherent behavior in order to avoid giving wrong ideas to the public (this anomaly is called ‘’brand schizophrenia’’), thus risking to lose the perceptions created in many years of work. I suggest writing a handbook of all the rules on how to use a brand-mark, a sort of ‘’instruction manual’’, in order to constantly verify that the brand’s performances are correct.
10. The brand must be legally protected
Nowadays it is not possible to register a Brand – meaning the personality to embody at psychological level- but only the Trademark. In legal terms, a trademark is every ‘’mark’’ that distinguishes the products or services of a firm from those of other firms. For marks, it is meant: Words, drawings, letters, digits, sounds, shape of the product or packaging, graphic marks with color combinations or tones.
In order to register a trademark, it is recommended to contact firms specialized in the legal protection of intellectual property, such as patents and indeed, trademarks. An advice: before registering a trademark, a ‘’clearance search’’ should be carried out (according to product category and Country) to verify if someone else has already registered something similar in order to avoid future law suits.