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Why there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all guide to brand building

Written by Tony Loxton
Jul 18

“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind”, said Walter Landor, the first person to coin the term and practice of brand building and who went on to found branding behemoth Landor Associates.

Landor’s sentiment remains relevant today:  the litmus test of your brand worth is essentially what your consumers think of you. End. Of. Story. And if you want to set your own brand up for success, you need to build your brand in a way that etches itself into the hearts of your market. No two brands are alike, which means there’s no cookie-cutter, paint-by-numbers template for successful brand building.

If you’re reading this in the hopes of finding a blanket solution to building a successful brand, you won’t find one. The reason? Simple. Brand building is as unique as the brand itself. In fact, it has to be. Standing out from your competitors is essential, and it’s the reason why one person only drinks Pure Blonde, while another is loyal to Crown Lager. They’re both beers, but they’re two completely different brands. See what we’re getting at?

An effective brand building strategy is all about the end user.

The reason why brands like Apple, Starbucks and Google have been so successful at winning the hearts (and wallets) of their customers is that they know how to be ‘lovable’. To put it simply, they’ve focused their brand building efforts purely on the end user.

Take the Blackberry and the iPhone, for example. One made by Apple, the other by Research in Motion or RIM. And if that name sounds only vaguely familiar to you, you get my point: very few people know RIM, but everyone knows Apple. Despite the fact that the Blackberry Classic’s QWERTY keyboard made it a favourite amongst productivity evangelists  – and for some reason, Kim Kardashiannews recently broke that the model is to be discontinued. The lesson? In the end, no matter how good your product is, even the backing of the world’s biggest reality ‘star’ isn’t enough to base your brand’s success upon.

Brand building isn’t just a once-off, tick-all-the-boxes, onto-the-next endeavour.

Case in point: Google. From humble beginnings when the internet was in its infancy, to world domination, Google outgrew early competitors like Yahoo! and Bing to become the world’s number one search engine. Their evolution saw them adding additional products like Google Maps, Earth, Analytics, Drive and many more – you name it, Google’s brought it to market. And while the tech giant has continued to evolve alongside their market, their inherent brand values remain intact. Despite tweaks to their logo (the subject of much debate), their success is down to the fact that they’ve stuck to their mission of making information as freely available and as easily accessible as possible. Google’s commitment to changing alongside their market is proof that brand building is a continual process that pays off – big time.

Brand building begins with knowing who your customers are, understanding their wants and needs, and then giving it to them.

If you have anything less than a crystal clear picture of your market, the time and money you pour into your brand building efforts are wasted. This means that embracing every single opportunity to learn about your market and the way they interact with your brand (and your competitors) is crucial. The good news is that in the digital age, this information is readily available and more plentiful than ever. The more data you have about your market, the easier – and more successful – your brand building efforts will be.

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