The Power of Branding: A Focus-Driven Approach

Jan 2


Martin Lindstrom

Martin Lindstrom

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The secret to successful branding often eludes many, with questions frequently arising about how to transform a brand into a global powerhouse akin to Coca-Cola. Unfortunately, there's no magical formula for brand building. However, the path to success can be navigated by adhering to three fundamental principles. These principles serve as the guiding light towards building a successful brand, with the primary emphasis being on focus. This focus encompasses a specific audience, values, and tone-of-voice. While it may seem simplistic, identifying your unique target group is a crucial first step.


The Importance of Audience Focus

Consider McDonald's,The Power of Branding: A Focus-Driven Approach Articles a brand that has always positioned itself as a family restaurant rather than a burger bar. This family-centric strategy is reflected in all their operations, allowing them to tap into one of the most attractive and loyal consumer groups. By targeting families, McDonald's accesses the parents' wallets through the children's minds. This strategy has been instrumental in McDonald's growth, and it doesn't deter other consumer groups like teenagers, tweens, or singles from patronizing their restaurants.

Another example is a renowned vodka brand that targeted alternative audiences, such as the gay community in the USA. By becoming popular in trendy bars in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, the brand became fashionable and attracted a broader audience. Despite its alternative background, the vodka brand is now globally recognized.

Crafting Your Brand's Message

After identifying your brand's audience focus, the next step is to define its message. What does your brand want to convey? What impressions should it leave in the consumer's mind? For instance, the word "Lego" might evoke thoughts of "a creative construction toy" or "colorful plastic bricks". "Rolex" might bring to mind a "high-quality Swiss watch", and "Mercedes-Benz" a "high-quality German car".

The principle is straightforward: what do you want consumers to think when they encounter your brand? However, don't be overly ambitious. You can't control every thought a consumer has about your brand. Instead, focus on your brand's values and communicate them consistently.

The Role of Consistent Communication

Consistency in communication is the third pillar of a robust branding strategy. This means delivering your brand's message in a tone-of-voice that becomes identifiable as your brand's voice. This voice should consistently communicate the brand's values to its target audience. Remember, you are exposed to your brand far more frequently than your customers, so don't let your own frequency of exposure influence your communication decisions.

Consistency should permeate every aspect of your brand's consumer communication strategy. Your brand should consistently target its audience, communicate the same message, embody and transmit the same values, and maintain the same vocabulary, nomenclature, design elements, and graphics.

However, many companies, even large ones, fail to meet the consistency prerequisite. For instance, Swissair, also known as Crossair, Flightline, Jumbolino, and Swissair Express, uses different versions of the Swissair logo for each sub-identity, despite all flying internationally. While there may be a logical reason behind this divergent branding strategy, it's questionable whether Swissair's customers understand it.

The Role of Design in Branding

Design consistency, including graphic design, logo, and overall look, is not a standalone factor in branding. These elements support the brand and can accelerate recognition, thereby speeding up the branding process. However, they are merely elements. A beautiful logo and perfect identifying design are useless if your brand lacks a clear audience focus, value focus, and tone-of-voice focus.

In conclusion, strong branding isn't about having a beautiful logo. It's about your brand's message. By adhering to the principles of audience focus, message crafting, and consistent communication, you're likely to achieve your brand-building goals, even without a stunning logo.