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Illustration of tree with colorful leaves with branding and marketing terms

Large companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Ford, and Timex have perfected their brands over the course of generations by imprinting an image in the minds of potential consumers for their products. Over the years, consumers have learned to ‘Enjoy’ Coke; that they ‘deserve a break today’ at McDonalds; that the F-250 pickup is ‘built Ford Tough’; and that a Timex will ‘take a licking and keep on ticking.’ While these references may be a bit dated, the point is that these companies’ brands have stuck with consumers over the years for a reason.

Have you ever thought about what makes a brand stick in the minds of consumers? Is it the style of the logo, or a catchy slogan that people remember? Or is it an expensive marketing campaign consisting of commercials, print ads, and news releases? Actually, it is none of those things. The aforementioned items simply illuminate or reinforce a strong brand identity that already exists.

Coca-Cola was already serving up enjoyable drinks before it created the ‘enjoy Coke’ slogan. The same is true for McDonalds, Ford, Timex, and other successful brands. A business must first be something, before it can brand itself as such. The ‘be-ing’ part of branding is the first and most important step for any business (large or small) to master before promoting the brand to potential customers.

So what must a business be, before it can become a successful brand? Here are three components to consider:

  1. Capable - A business must have the capability to satisfy the needs or desires of a consumer for a good or service. If the Timex watch fell apart when you dropped it to the ground, it would not meet the criteria of being a capable rugged, but stylish time piece (what the customer wants). Likewise, every business owner must ask whether their business is completely capable of meeting the needs/desires of potential customers. If so, that is the first component of a successful brand; if not, it’s back to the drawing board for a new plan.
  2. Consistent - A business must have the ability to consistently meet criteria #1 above. Capably fulfilling the customers’ needs/desires can’t be a hit-or-miss proposition. For instance, if one McDonald’s restaurant served Happy Meals and Big Macs, while the next McDonald’s did not, their brand would not meet the criteria of consistency. However, since one of the core components of the McDonald’s brand is that every location has essentially the exact same menu—prepared in the exact same manner—they meet the criteria necessary for a successful brand. Likewise, building a brand for your company requires near-perfect execution of the consistent delivery of a product or service that meets or exceeds the expectations of customers.
  3. Capacity - The final component necessary to build a successful brand is to develop the capacity to make the product available and accessible to a variety of customers. It wouldn’t make much difference if a pickup truck was built Ford tough, if people could not go to a dealership to buy one when they needed it. Likewise, building a successful brand requires developing the capacity (scale) to serve customers when and where they want to do business with a company.

Your company may not yet have the budget to create a comprehensive branding campaign like a Fortune 500 corporation. However, you can still start to build a successful brand by offering a product or service that expertly fulfills the needs of your customers; in a consistent manner; and is accessible to all the customers who want to do business with you. Once you master these three components, the resources will soon follow to invest in promoting your brand to the marketplace to accelerate your growth. To learn more about resources available to assist in business and brand development, visit www.TheInstituteNC.org.