How To Build A Brand – Part II

by Holland-Mark | March 7, 2012

This is the second in a two part series on How To Build A Brand. For Part I, see here.

Quick Recap: Holland-Mark is not in the advertising business. We’re in the growing businesses business. We help clients achieve “Imperative” status, meaning we help make their products and services must-haves in an economy where that’s what people buy.

Imperative is, of course, subjective. That’s why creating a brand – a collective emotional response, out there – is a big part of what we do.

So how does it work? How do you build a brand that helps get you to Imperative in 2012 and beyond?

When last we met, we had Connected to the Truth of the situation, Clarified Our Message using One Simple Thing™ or some lesser methodology, and Aligned Our Offering with the emotional value proposition expressed in that message.

Armed with a clear and effective message, brought to life in a product the world wants… it’s time to make sure our other external contact points support rather than detract from our brand.

Step Four: Align Your External Touchpoints

Support your brand, or detract from it. There really is no neutral ground.

If you claim to be a service-oriented brand, but send me to an automated attendant when I need help, you fail. If you claim to be a luxury hotel, but the towels are 2’ x3’… fail.

This is where the logo comes in, by the way. It’s hard to design, or even evaluate design work like that if you lack sufficient message clarity to provide some kind of objective standard. Without that it’s just a matter of whether you like it. Amateur hour.

Beyond that, remember customers discount the claims of your marketing, and look to the “little things” to form an impression of who you really are. That means it’s important to make sure everything from your voicemail message to your lobby décor to your trade show schwag support the brand you’re trying to create. Even seemingly internal things… your employee manual, your HR policies, your operational safety protocols can have a big impact on brand perception. Doubt it? Ask BP.

Step Five: Engage The Market

OK… so now, having bashed marketing communications for 2 posts, it’s time to come clean: Most brands cannot live on tweets alone.

Old school marketing tactics are a critically important dimension of most large scale brands, and new school tactics like content marketing, mobile, and social programs need to tell the same story in roughly the same way as everything else.

I’m a huge believer in inbound tactics, of course. But sometimes – especially in lower involvement categories – they need to be augmented with media that interrupts people to deliver your message.

Step Six: Measure & Manage Advocacy

The final step in building a brand in 2012 is measuring the extent to which you’re becoming “Imperative;” meaning the extent to which you’re creating advocates, adding more promoters than detractors to the ongoing conversation about whether your product is any good.

To do this we use the Net Promoter System, based on the seminal work done by Fred Reichheld to measure and manager customer loyalty. It’s powerful ju-ju, worth getting up to speed on if you haven’t already.

We’d argue advocacy is the real currency of brand value out there today. It’s been statistically proven to predict everything from the organic growth rate to the long-term profitability of a business. Armed with the customer insights it inevitably reveals, enlightened marketing folks become empowered to drive the whole organization in the direction of a world-beating brand.

NPS is just now tipping over from a tool only the big guys use to one that can help any size business gauge its progress in making customers happy, getting them to come back, and inspiring them enough to tell their friends about the experience.
And that, in the end, is what it’s all about.


This post originally appeared on on March 7, 2012.