The first step in building an awesome Scottish brand is to define what you have, what it offers and its potential. Conducting a brand audit and posing some honest, challenging questions allows you to evaluate your asset. Brands are ten a penny but exceptional brands are much rarer. Understand what makes (or could make) your brand stand out from everyone else, what makes (or could make) your brand memorable, what drives your consumers to purchase and to stay loyal. Aim to stand apart from the competition and be clear on your points of difference.
Be forensic about the market in which your brand operates. Plenty of market intelligence is available which can provide the landscape, indicate trends and provide useful information – this applies as much to markets outside the United Kingdom. Government bodies, trade associations, competitors and industry bodies can provide useful sources of information through desk research without spending too much money. Taking time to plan with detailed understanding of the economic conditions as well as the shape of the market place should be part of the early grounding, whether a new brand or one more established.
Tailored qualitative research to your brand is a valuable investment in developing and shaping your brand’s future. A well thought through brief and carefully targeted research often unearths the most unexpected, valuable information. Often brand owners forget to use their existing consumers and customers to gain feedback on their brand. This should provide a rich seam of material from which further developments might stem as well as a sense check for future plans.
For many brands, protecting the intellectual asset is often one of the last considerations. It should be one of the first. Ensure that you protect your brand and that you own the appropriate trade- marks. Specialist advice from a trade-mark or IP specialist (or very good company secretary) can save costly mistakes or worse, legal action, at a later stage.
Building a brand requires investment, in cash, resources and time. Brand development can be successful even on a very limited budget and does not always require deep pockets. It does require time spent on planning and research, creative thinking and decisive implementation. Make friends with the finance team!
With an ever-changing landscape, your brand must be able to evolve and change. Innovation is not just about the tangible product or service that your brand might be, but the way in which it is consumed, delivered or even in the sector in which you operate. Often innovation is a footnote but successful brands come from organisations which tend to understand and embrace innovation as part of their culture and everyday operation.
Building an awesome brand is much like any relationship – it has to be worked at! More than ever, opportunities exist to form strong relationships using social media tools, investing in excellent customer service and using the valuable insights gleaned to
further develop your brand. Consumers have emotional relationships with brands. Use this to your advantage.
Keep them close. Scrutinise them. Understand what they are doing and, more importantly, why they are doing it. Learn from both their successes and, perhaps even more importantly, from their mistakes.
Once you have clarified or defined your brand, it is important that an awesome brand behaves in a consistent way – how it looks, what it sounds like, the messages and communication that surround the brand. Building on the engagement theme, there is nothing more disconcerting than a brand which does not live up to its initial promise and it is the fastest way of losing consumers and customers.
Treat your brand like a small child. Listen to its needs, nourish and care for it tenderly. Your brand is a valuable asset; you may be its guardian, tending it for now and for the next generation. You will have to guide it carefully, understand its nature, its characteristics but take pleasure in it and guard it in the best way that you can.
It will reward you in ways that you might have never expected!
Liz Taylor is director of Taylormade Marketing, based in Glasgow.