7 Characteristics of Successful Brands

What are the characteristics of successful brands? Let’s back up a bit and think about what your brand was created to support.

Your product or service. You’ve got one, or you wouldn’t be here.

You’ve got one that can really help people, one that can make a real difference in people’s lives.

Unfortunately, the word is not getting out there. You’re not reaching the people who need to hear about you. There are so many people out there who would love what you can do for them.

The problem is, there are so many competitors in the same space as you. You’re not like them. You’re different, you’re better. But no one is paying attention.

How can you cut through the noise and find the audience you want to serve?

Well, the answer is branding.

No matter how great your product or service is, people are not going to really take notice until you’ve got your branding sorted.

And how can you do that?

The answer is to learn from the best.

Successful brands have characteristics in common that underpin their success.

Want to know what they are?

1. Audience Knowledge

Successful brands have a thorough grasp of their target market. They’re not trying to appeal to everyone — they focus their efforts on a specific audience.

It’s better to have strong appeal to a core audience than to have a mild appeal to a broad audience.

Getting to know your target audience allows your marketing to be finely targeted. Your brand identity should speak to your target market, addressing their specific needs in a language they can relate to. In this way, your message can cut through the noise of competing brands.

In other words, you should create a brand so that, as soon your target audience hears your message, they realize right away that you ‘get’ them.

2. Clear Promise

It’s not enough to understand what your audience wants. You need to make a promise to them, and it needs to be clear. Your promise is the bedrock of your brand — it’s reason for being. Your promise should symbolize what you stand for, what you believe in, what your vision of the world is.

Now whatever your promise is, make sure you can keep it. Better still, you should make sure you can deliver above and beyond your promise.

Your promise can be spelled out, for example, in a brand slogan. Or it can be implicit in everything that you do. If you can, do both.

Remember, your promise is your reputation. You must continuously strive to uphold it.

3. Unique Proposition

It’s hard to stand out in a sea of similar products and services. It’s a lot easier if you’re unique.

Now being unique is not easy.

Maybe you’re a genius, a true innovator. You’ve come up with a product or service that no one else can match. All you need to do is to say so.

Well, I’m no genius, and if you’re not either that’s OK. There are countless highly successful companies who are dominating their industries despite selling products and services that are, on the face of it, pretty similar to those of their competitors.

How does that work?

Well you have to pick one thing that you can do different or better than your competition.

It could be your customer service. It could be the that you cater to a specific type of person or business. It could be your speed of delivery.

4. Consistency

Successful brands are consistent. You can count on them. Day after day, week after week, year after year. They do what they do and always have done. It’s why franchises are so successful. A consistent brand is like having a reliable old friend who’s always there for you.

By being consistent, you can convey the strength of your purpose and your stability. You show that you are focused, that you’re serious in what you do, that you always follow through.

The penalties for lack of consistency are serious. People become confused about your brand. They’re not sure what you stand for, they’re not sure what you believe in, they’re not sure you’re sure about anything.

Being consistent is building equity in your brand. Over time, as your reputation builds, you’ll have something valuable in your hands.

5. Storytelling

We all love stories. That’s why we read books, watch movies, play computer games. Storytelling can be a powerful way to bring your brand to life. People are most interested in people, not things.

We buy on emotion and justify with logic.

Stories can shed light on the remarkable personalities and achievements behind your brand that your audience will love to hear about. When creating a brand story, start with what you know about your audience. Find characters that they most identify with. These characters might be people in your company, or they might be other customers you’ve served well.

A good story can illustrate what you do and how you do it, it can show what you believe in and feel passionate about. It has the power to draw people to you because they want to be a part of your story too.

6. Engagement

This is one of the characteristics of successful brands that gets overlooked.

People no longer want to be talked at or sold to. It just doesn’t work anymore.

People are less likely to be convinced by what brands say, they want to experience what brands stand for and how they act.

Successful brands know how to bypass people’s resistance to being sold to by engaging with their audiences. Engagement builds trust, credibility, and familiarity. People are much more likely to buy from brands who know how to engage them.

The key to being engaging is to interact with your audience. Social media is a great way to do this, and these days it’s expected that you’re active on social networks. Don’t just bombard your audience with sales pitches. Talk to them, listen to their concerns, help them with their problems.

7. Authenticity

When you’re able to match what you say you do and what your audience experiences, you’ve achieved authenticity.

If you fall short, if you’re making promises you can’t keep, if you’re being too forced in your messaging, people can feel it. Their impression is that you’re not quite what you say you are, you’re not genuine, not authentic.

Authenticity must run deep to be effective. Deeper than a catchy slogan. Deeper than a striking logo. Authenticity reaches down to the core of your organization. Every time you design a new product or service, every time you speak to a customer or reply to a question on social media, your authenticity must shine through.

Branding is What People Say About You When You’re Not in the Room

Your authenticity speaks volumes about your integrity and honesty. If you’re authentic, people can believe in you, trust you. They will be drawn to you, they’ll want to to be a part of what you do, they’ll be proud to associate with you.

If you #!%#@# up? Correct it immediately and be clear about what you’ve done to fix it. Contact the social media team if it’s a real doozy.

Never compromise on your authenticity. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Make it right. Your audience will appreciate you for it.

Why Your Business Need A Brand Identity?

Do you drink Coke just to quench your thirst? Do you drive a BMW just to get from A to B?

A Coke can quench your thirst. But so can water. A BMW can get you from A to B. But so can a secondhand Ford.

When people are asked why they chose product A over product B they come up with all sorts of rationalizations. They give reasons based on the product’s tangible features. But there’s something else driving their decision. That something is the power of brand identity.

Here’s an example:

Take Dell, Sony and IBM.

Three giants in the world of computers.

Their machines all run the same software. But in the eyes of computer buyers, one stands for flexibility, one for innovation and one for quality.

Now over to you:

Does your business have a unique, instantly recognizable brand identity? Is your audience able to readily distinguish you from your competitors?

About Ali Liaquat

Ali is an award winning growth hacker and digital marketer. He has been featured by various news media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Social Times, Crunch Base, MarketingProfs, Inc Magazine, and few others. Received Innovation & Excellence Award in 2015 from Corporate LiveWire, UK.

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