A Guide to 21st Century Brand-Building

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Customer Strategy
Marketing
Brand building is a journey for all companies and organizations, said Chris Stutzman, vice president and principal analyst, at Forrester during his opening remarks during Forrester's Marketing Leadership Forum 2012 today in Los Angeles.

Brand building is a journey for all companies and organizations, said Chris Stutzman, vice president and principal analyst, at Forrester during his opening remarks during Forrester's Marketing Leadership Forum 2012 today in Los Angeles.That journey, Stutzman said, includes four pillars of brand equity that currently are buckling in an era of higher consumer standards.Those four pillars include:

1. Credibility. Consumers indicated in a Forrester study that the highest standard for brands is brand pride. What happens when customers are proud to be associated with brand pride? Stutzman said that they're likely to tell friends and family.

2. Leadership. The highest standard in this pillar are societal contributions. "Brands that get credit for making contributions translates to pricing power,
Stutzman said.

3. Uniqueness. In this pillar, consumers indicated that the highest standard is when a brand provides special experiences. "Most brands focus on their identity here, but consumers say it's about the experience," Stutzman said.

4. Relevance. The highest standard is providing indispensable value. "Become part of their daily lifestyle. When you do that, they're able to choose brands over every category."

Given these four pillars, Stutzman explains that brands have a steeper hill to climb because it's difficult today to build brand equity and trust. He recommends three areas to focus on to turn insights into action.

1. Develop a clear destination for your brand. Stutzman said that If you can't articulate it, that's a good place to start. Companies must pinpoint the coordinates for their journey and they must ring true to the brand's heritage. Four steps to achieve that are: 1. Be honest, 2. Make it strategic, 3. Make it inspirational, and 4. Make it concise.

Two examples of brands that have successfully mapped out a clear destination include: Mercedes Benz, "The best or nothing;" and Adobe, "Changing the world through digital experiences."

2. Update your map of the brand experience. Once you nailed the destination, you need to update the map for the brand experience. 20th century brand maps involved one-way thinking, focused on products, Stutzman said. 21st century brands must first define how they interact with the world, align offerings, and then shape and share the brand message.

3. Get a compass to guide your brand.
After companies map their brands, they then should pinpoint their brands' north star. Four ways to do this include: 1. Guide your brand to be more trusted, 2. Guide your brand to be more remarkable, 3. Be unmistakable. Become known as the one and only at what you do, and 4. Guide your brand to become more essential. Become more irreplaceable in the lives of your customers.

Examples include, Patagonia which has guided its brand to be more trustable by making its entire global supply chain transparent; Secret remarkable by empowering women to be fearless; IBM 's "Smarter Planet" campaign is unmistakable; and Tesco's virtual grocery stores in subway systems is essential.

When updating your brand map to fit 21st century guidelines, remember to map out and guide your brand with a working compass so that your journey in 21st century brand-building is steadfast and encompasses customers' values and beliefs.

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