How to Build A Rock Solid Brand

Our well worn copy of “Building Strong Brands”, a go-to resource for branding.

The importance of great branding cannot be underestimated. When branding is done right, it becomes the rock solid, strategic base or platform that marketing programs are built upon. When we work with clients on their brand strategies, positioning, and identity, we agonize over every word, every detail that goes into it, because if it isn’t strong, if it isn’t right, the foundation can crumble… and so can the brand.

How do we build a Rock Solid Brand?  I’m glad you asked. We prescribe to much of David Aaker’s thinking, especially from his book “Building Strong Brands.”  While it reads like a text book, the content is best-in-class. At Response, we believe in him and his work because we’ve applied it to many of our clients and, not surprisingly, it works.  Aaker’s 3-step process includes a Strategic Brand Analysis, Developing the Brand Identity System, and Devising the Brand Implementation System. Something like this:

Exploring the Brand Image – Identity Gap

One topic from Aaker’s teachings that I am passionate about is the difference between Brand Image and Identity. Image is how your Brand is perceived today, and Identity is what your Brand aspires to be. One of the really insightful exercises we do with our clients is an Image-Identity gap analysis. We set them up with the Segment/Attribute on the left, then fill in what the current image and brand aspiration is as it relates to that item. With a simple chart like this, the brand’s challenges become abundantly clear.

Attending Brand Development Workshops

We also have a relationship with a great strategic partner, Impact Planning Group. Impact Planning Group has helped us conduct workshops with clients utilizing their proprietary tools. In these group sessions key insights and customer values are unmasked. We would not have gotten to this critical information with out them. They wrote a book titled, “The Accidental Marketer,” which gives a high level overview of their approach and the tools that they use. It’s very helpful in the strategic branding process.

There are a few other resources that we’ve found helpful as we’ve guided companies through branding and rebranding processes:

Lastly, we keep up with the latest in branding by digesting as much information as we can from every source possible. Here’s a great blog post about branding trends in 2015 that you might find as interesting, but not shocking, as we did.

When a Rock Solid Brand Pays Off

So when you go through these steps and follow the advice of those who know, what type of results can you expect? Stony Creek would be a perfect example. We recently re-branded Stony Creek Beer and updated their packaging. I believe the brand is in a much stronger position and far better aligned with their Identity than they have ever been before. While their brand looks beautiful, the proof is in their retail sales and the massive crowds at their new brewery.

I’m looking forward to sharing the two branding projects we have in house now. Once they are launched, we’ll give you the inside scoop on how we got to establishing their new identities.