Yes, every brand has super powers.

But in today’s world of analytics-heavy performance marketing, the essence of the brand is often not well defined, and instead the focus goes too quickly to execution without any clear brand strategy direction. Taking the time to step back and doing a little homework is key to realizing the brand’s true potential.

Why spend the time to figure out your brand’s superpowers?

Courtesy of Kantar

Because Strong Brands drive superior shareholder returns. Each year, Kantar compares the returns of Strong Brands versus the S&P. Strong Brands ride the turbulence and spring back faster.

Building a Strong Brand starts with knowing what you stand for. It begins with defining a purpose for your brand and then sticking to it in thought, word and deed. This is essentially the brand’s reason for being in this world, beyond making money. It is what motivates everyone who touches the brand. Dove’s brand purpose is often cited. One can see how the brand purpose is intertwined in every brand communication for every Dove product.

Courtesy of Dove

Once you have your brand purpose, focus on these 5 tenets ,which will fuel your brand’s super powers.

Strong Brands are coherent. This means that a brand needs to be logical and consistent. This is driven by the Brand Purpose, but also by clear and consistent consumer messaging across the consumer experience– from awareness to trial to repeat. Brands should have Brand Guidelines which document everything about the brand in terms of its look, tone and feel and how all these elements fit together. This is critical for everyone internally and externally who is touching the brand, so that everyone is singing off the same song sheet.    

Strong Brands are relevant and relatable. When your brand has relevance and relatability for your target consumers, they can see aspects of themselves in the brand that helps make the brand feel familiar; they can see and appreciate how it can play an important role in their life.

Courtesy of McKinsey & Company

One area that is becoming increasingly important for some consumer groups is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) when evaluating if a brand is “for them.” In fact, 17 percent of Black and 14 percent of Hispanic and Latino consumers indicated that they would be willing to spend in excess of 25 percent more for brands supporting DEI, according to a 2020 Study by the Consumer Brands Association. The same can be said for Gen-Z and Millennial respondents of whom almost half would pay ~10% more for brands supporting DEI.

Strong Brands are meaningful. To ensure your brand is meaningful requires a deep understanding of your brand’s consumer target –what they value, what really matters to them, what motivates them.  

One area many of today’s shoppers value is transparency. According to a 2022 FMI and NielsenIQ report, today’s shoppers consider transparency to be extremely important or important (72%), with transparency defined as providing detailed information such as what is in their food and how it was made. Shoppers say that transparency boosts their trust in manufacturers and retailers. Almost two-thirds of shoppers (64%) say they would switch from a brand they usually buy to another brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what is provided on the physical label.

Courtesy of One Degree Organic Foods

Case in point is One Degree Organic Foods with its “All Ingredients From Farmers We Know” pledge, with a QR code on each package so that one can track each package by entering the clean source code.

Strong Brands are distinct. A distinct brand is simple and intuitive for the consumer to notice, understand and purchase. It takes out cognitive effort, because it just “makes sense” and stands out from the pack. A brand can be considered distinct on different levels. It might stand out, with a differentiating benefit, and communicates this in a unique way. A classic example is Red Bull, which promises an emotional benefit that is unique in the category, “to give you wings”, with a distinctive winged cartoon character, that is easily understood in any language.

Strong Brands are memorable. In today’s lingo, this often refers to a brand’s “stickiness”. It refers to a consumer finding value in your brand on a deeper, often emotional, level. This higher perceived value is particularly important for brands competing in a commodity category. For one, a memorable brand is more likely to have a loyal consumer following. Secondly, a loyal consumer is more likely to tell other like-minded potentially loyal consumers about the brand.

Consider a commodity category such as insurance. The British-accented Gecko, which has become an iconic representation of insurance-provider Geico, started out as a spoof. Potential consumers were having a hard time remembering the brand’s name, much less pronouncing it. The ad agency therefore decided to make lemonade out of lemons and selected a Gecko as the mascot, embracing the fact that “gecko” was the most common mispronunciation of “Geico”. The introduction of the gecko made Geico one of the fastest growing auto insurance providers of its time.

This brings us to another point – none of these factors in isolation are enough to fuel your brand’s super powers. The magic occurs when they are accessed in unison as brands launch, innovate and evolve in this changing world.

Uncovering your brand’s Super Powers and becoming a Strong Brand is a journey. It starts with defining your Brand Purpose and considering these factors in unison before engaging the consumer. Ask yourself, how will your brand be:

1)   Coherent

2)   Relevant and Relatable

3)   Meaningful

4)   Distinct

5)   Memorable

Together they provide the foundation for becoming a Strong Brand and achieving superior growth consistently over time. If you are starting this journey or need some guidance along the path, Compass Marketing is here to help.

Annette Herz

Annette is skilled at identifying growth opportunities and successfully guiding products from concept to launch. At Compass, she advises leading brands and category disruptors in the health & beauty, personal care and home appliance sectors.

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