Brand-Building Ideas

Where do they come from?

When it comes to brand-building programs quality should come before budget concerns. It is worthwhile to spend a significant proportion of a brand-building budget on finding truly effective brand-building initiatives. The chances of finding brand-building home runs will be higher if one or more of these methods and perspectives are used:

External role models

Find an organization that has successfully addressed a similar problem or task and adapt what they did. And don’t limit the search to those organizations that look like your own — be willing to look more broadly. A retail bank with a broad array of financial services that aspires to provide a trusted adviser role might look to Home Depot as a role model. Home Deport has launched numerous internal and external programs that allow the brand an approachable, knowledgeable friendly face.

The brand experience

Identify all existing and potential brand touchpoints. Evaluate them by segment, determine the importance of the touchpoint to the customer relationship, prioritize touchpoints by cost of upgrading, and develop an action plan. Look to customer problems and needs and the experience of dealing with them. Could that be improved?

Customer motivations and unmet needs

Because customers sometimes hide motivations and are unaware of unmet needs, indirect approaches such as anthropological research can be helpful. P&G researchers, for example, created Downy Single Rinse based on insights from seeing the laundry habits of Mexican women facing water shortages and time constraints. Brand teams can also leverage their knowledge and experience to create programs that break with tradition, such as the Apple store with its energy, clean layout and Genius Bar.

Brand building is about communicating the brand and its vision to customers.

Customer sweet spots

A different approach is to make the brand an active partner in an area that the customer is interested in or even passionate about. Chapter 11 of my latest book, Aaker on Branding, explores why that option can be effective and how to implement it.

Competitor weaknesses

Look at competitor weaknesses,even for potential “reasons not to buy” and attempt to position them as well as your brand. When PowerBar introduced Pria in response to Clif Bar’s Luna (the first women’s energy bar), Pria was able to message around being more petite, having fewer calories, and having a different and better taste and texture.

Emerging markets

Examine emerging applications or market segments because they might provide a pathway not only to growth, but also to a brand refresher. Recall the classic finding that Arm & Hammer baking soda could deodorize a refrigerator. It forever changed the brand.

Find more idea sources

Empower all units in the organization to come up with ideas to source and test ideas. Pantene’s “Hair So Healthy It Shines” came from Taiwan, and Levi’s Dockers came from South America. Employ crowdsourcing. Create a well-defined brief that engages one of the many crowdsourcing sites. Ask customers for ideas like Dell does with its IdeaStorm developed in 2007 and recently ungraded and revitalized.

Utilize discipline

Use creative thinking discipline learnings. Implement disciplined brainstorming techniques with clear objectives, lateral thinking (start the process from different, even outlandish points of reference), and avoidance of evaluation during the ideation phase. Break routine by going on a field trip to gain new perspectives. Develop a creative, friendly culture.

Be opportunistic

The best brand builders are opportunistic. When Hyundai won the coveted 2009 Car of the Year award from the North American International Auto Show, it was able to exploit that award by providing credibility (with an explanation point) to its quality and styling story. A brand-building team needs to be nimble and flexible in order to leverage such opportunities.

Whatever the idea source, the key to success is to refine, refine, refine using a sequence of methods and test & learn processes. The core driving should be the unrelenting search for the home run, and the knowledge that anything less will be marginal.

This post originally appeared on Aaker on Brands.

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