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how to build a successful brand


what is a brand? A brand is a promise of an experience. It shows the kind of company you are, how you behave, and what you believe in. It’s the face and the personality that your company presents to the world—expressed through voice, words, messages, and visual design. It’s your stake in the ground, a way to set yourself apart from the competition and influence consumer preference. A successful brand is clearly defined and clearly communicated. It provides a coherent, consistent platform to focus all of your communications in a single, memorable direction. It’s a way of conveying your values to form an emotional connection with others. This powerful connection can instill a deep feeling of meaning, pride, and identification. It’s why people wear T-shirts with Coca-Cola logos across the chest. And why they get permanent tattoos that say Harley-Davidson on their arms. It helps strengthen companies from inside, too—encouraging loyalty among employees and attracting higher-level talent.

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Consumer and business audiences today expect a two-way conversation with their brands. They want brands to stand for something that they can relate to and believe in. They want brands to respect them, to be accountable, and to quickly resolve issues in an honest way. In 2008, for example, the financial services industry suffered a branding crisis as consumers felt betrayed by the mortgage and real estate meltdown. As a result, our culture went through a major shift—one that affected the branding, advertising, marketing, and PR activities of the entire industry. When it comes to branding, perception is reality. But a brand is not just the outside face it projects to its customers. A strong brand is built from the inside out. Since employees are key to a company’s success, it’s essential that they embrace the brand and its values. Besides growing customer relationships, a powerful brand raises employee morale and dedication— inspiring growth and success. A brand is not a mission statement or a substitute for excellent products and services. It’s also not a logo or a tagline. These are all important elements that support the brand identity and the brand promise. The whole of a brand consists of everything from design and imagery, to voice and messaging, to company values and mission. A brand is the sum of its many diverse parts.

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how do you build a brand? Building a brand is a process of self-discovery that includes taking a close look at your company and distilling it to its core essence. To help with the process, d.trio has developed a step-by-step strategic Marketing and Planning Process (M.A.P.P.). Some of these steps include:

Discovery and Planning • Uncover the key characteristics of the brand through research • Conduct a review of current brand and brand materials • Assess the competition

Strategy and Positioning • Review the initial information and survey results • Identify brand personality factors and key differentiators • Find the reasons to believe for all audiences • Create overarching strategy for the brand

Brand development • Execute the overarching strategy • Express the brand story in a compelling way • Develop tagline, elevator pitch, mission and positioning statements • Design graphic elements including logo, photography style, and color palette • Establish identity guidelines detailing specific usage of visuals, typography, and tone

Communicate the brand • Develop brand workshops for executives and front-line employees • Distribute brand guidelines • Roll out new advertising, collateral, and online/offline marketing materials

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When a brand offers more than expected, it enhances the relationship with its customers and helps them to become a bigger, more important part of their customers’ lives.

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The whole of a brand consists of everything from design and imagery, to voice and messaging, to company values and mission. A brand is the sum of its many diverse parts. 6 |

d.trio marketing group > how to build a successful brand


how do you provide the best customer experience? Customer service plays a key role in today’s innovative, successful brands. When it comes to communications, successful brands encourage an exchange of information and ideas while presenting pricing and product information straightforward and honestly. They don’t hide important details, disclosures, or mislead their customers in any way. Customer feedback and interaction is encouraged through social media and other channels, making customers feel like they’re an important part of the brand story. This helps customers become more invested, creating a sense of ownership and pride that turns them into loyal brand advocates. Modern consumers expect more from their brands than just products and services. They’re looking for relevancy, connection, and understanding. When a brand offers more than expected, it enhances the relationship with its customers and helps them to become a bigger, more important part of their customers’ lives. Websites, blogs, and other extra content can be helpful in engaging customers in a deeper way. Offering white papers and other thought leadership is a strong way to build credibility and engage audiences. As an example, Synchrony Financial creates white papers for retailers and hosts them prominently on their website. (https://www.synchronyfinancial.com/) In the end, building the right customer experience takes time, consistency, and training. Once a company has done the strategic work and developed the brand materials that represent the company’s personality and promise, the new brand should be communicated company-wide. It works well to conduct a brand workshop that teaches executives and front line employees about the new brand elements, specific messages, and tone, so that they can represent the company in the best possible way.

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how does b2b branding differ from b2c? At its best, B2B branding communicates the strengths of a company as well as how it helps customers do their jobs better, solve problems, create efficiencies, improve profits and/or think differently. Business audiences tend to be interested in more specific, niche products or services, and their different priorities, needs, and wants set B2B branding apart from B2C branding in some unique ways. Since a business audience tends to be more savvy, knowledgeable, and information-hungry than the average consumer, it’s essential that the messaging, copy, and design are even more relevant and compelling. Every single piece of communication says something about a company—creating a new opportunity to draw people in, or turn them away. So it’s important to make the most of every piece of communication, whether that’s an ad, website, blog post, or even a tweet. As with all branding, companies need to identify and leverage what makes them unique. And it’s even more so in B2B branding. With business competition being fierce, it’s not enough to just tell people what you do—brands need to own what makes them different. While common sense might suggest that being an expert in one’s own business would be an asset in marketing it, that’s usually not the case. Often, those within a company are too close to the daily operations to see their brand as the rest of the world does. It usually takes an outside marketing agency to help figure out a company’s differentiating characteristics, and effectively bring them to the surface. Being relatable is another key aspect of B2B branding. Brands need to show their humanity. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling potato chips or microchips, people seek a human connection from the brands they support. When companies get too focused on the tiny details of their products and services, they often lose sight of a basic human truth: that business is all about helping people. Effective B2B brands make a strong connection with their audience and relate to them authentically. They remain true to their own brand, and consistent across all media channels and points of contact. Like any successful relationship, the one between marketer and customer is founded on trust. So it’s essential that a B2B marketer be honest about who they are and what they can provide.


how do you measure brand value? Brand value is a key factor in creating a successful relationship between companies and customers— one that leads to both higher sales and loyalty. But because brand value is both tangible and intangible, measuring it isn’t an exact science. Part of a brand’s value can be measured through qualitative and quantitative research. Online tools like websites are easy to measure in terms of web traffic and increased time spent online with your materials. You can clearly witness the results in the form of increased revenue. But successful branding does so much more than that. Its impact is felt in countless other ways—ways that are harder to measure. What is the value of a sales call in which people know what your company does and stands for before you even say a word? Or the value of attracting top talent to your company because they contacted you through your well-designed website? Or the free marketing generated by positive social media and word-of-mouth advertising? Or what about the value of passionate supporters becoming walking billboards who proudly—and voluntarily—wear your logo on their shirts, hats, and even their skin? These are just some of the countless benefits that a well-defined, well-loved brand offers—benefits that are hard to put a price tag on.

Building the right customer experience takes time, consistency, and training.


how do you measure brand equity? An offshoot of brand value, brand equity can be defined as the public value of a brand’s name, its recognizable logo, reputation, and relationship in the marketplace. Strong brand equity supports brand value by improving the effectiveness of marketing, increasing customer loyalty, justifying higher prices, creating bigger margins, promoting brand extensions, boosting trade leverage, and generating a greater overall competitive advantage. 1 The most iconic brands (with the highest levels of positive brand equity) are often known by their logo marks alone. A recognizable symbol can go a long way toward communicating what a brand is all about. It helps people instantly recall what a company stands for, as well as the quality of their products or services, just by seeing a graphic such as the Nike swoosh. And what about the power of a tagline that resonates with people on an emotional level, while tapping into a powerful universal truth? Products and services aside, what does the success of the Nike brand owe to the incredible impact of those three little words, “Just do it�? This level of brand recognition in the marketplace is created through careful brand management as well as concerted advertising, marketing, and PR efforts all executed within the established brand guidelines.

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Brand equity dimensions

Customer-based categories

The value of brand equity can be measured according to ten brand equity dimensions1. The most successful brands score well in all of them.

Brand value can also be measured according to five customer-based categories:

1. Loyalty

b. Familiarity

a. Price premium b. Satisfaction/loyalty

1. Awareness a. Recall

2. Perceptions/attitudes a. Weighted attribute score

2. Perceived quality/leadership

b. Value for money

a. Perceived quality

c. Quality of brand name

b. Leadership

3. Preferences

3. Associations/differentiation

a. Overall evaluation

a. Perceived value

b. Brand index

b. Brand personality

c. Dollar metric measure

c. Organizational associations

4. Choice intentions

4. Awareness

a. Purchase intention

a. Brand awareness

b. Brand-specific coefficient

5. Market behavior

5. Actual choice

a. Market share

a. Index of past purchases

b. Price and distribution indices

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Information from the Journal of Business & Economics Research, November 2007, Authors David J. Smith, Nikola Gradojevic, W. Sean Irwin d.trio marketing group > how to build a successful brand

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when should you consider rebranding? Rebranding is important if your messaging and visual design do not represent who you currently are as a company. You should consider rebranding if, through growth or acquisitions, your business has changed considerably in size, products, services, or other offerings. Or, if you are not recognized in your industry as readily as your competitors, you may need to reevaluate your brand in order to make a bigger impact in the marketplace.

Brand value is a key factor in creating a successful relationship between companies and customers—one that leads to both higher sales and loyalty.

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d.trio marketing group > how to build a successful brand


summary In today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, it’s more important than ever to have a strong, differentiating brand. The most successful companies have clearly defined brands and strong customer relationships. But getting there is a process. These companies have evaluated, executed, and managed their brands carefully, listening to the customers who play a part in their success. They know who they are. They’ve developed standout, meaningful creative. They’re deliberate about the messages they put out into the world, and they provide multiple channels for customers to communicate with them regularly. Creating and maintaining a company’s brand takes work and focus. But the incredible rewards are worth the effort.

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about d.trio Founded in 2000, d.trio is an independently owned, digital, traditional and new media marketing agency. Known for combining insightful business strategy with compelling creative and messaging, we create integrated programs that work. The d.trio staff has comprehensive branding, direct response, digital/web, multi-channel marketing, and PR experience. At d.trio, we believe passion matters. We are passionate about helping each client grow their customer base and improve their business’ bottom line. We understand the challenges businesses face, in responding to major changes over the next decade, and offer a fresh, customized perspective–never a cookie–cutter approach. We invite you to contact us at the numbers below, email us at greatideas@dtrio.com or visit us at www.dtrio.com for more information.

Don’t just market. Make your mark.

d.trio marketing group main: 612.787.3333 fax: 612.436.0324 401 n third st, suite 480 minneapolis, mn 55401

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dtrio.com /dtrio @dtrio d.trio

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how to build a sucessful brand  

The basics of branding and our process for helping businesses define themselves.

how to build a sucessful brand  

The basics of branding and our process for helping businesses define themselves.

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