Build Your Brand to Build Your Valuation
The success of your brand depends on its ability to consistently offer value through its products and services and to differentiate itself from the competition. To do so, your brand needs a solid foundation to build and to guide your decision making from product development to marketing. If you fail to clearly define your brand foundation early enough, you are bound to lose your company’s direction and your customers in the process. As a leader in your company’s marketing department, or founder of an early stage startup this post will help you deepen your understanding of branding, and sharpen your effectiveness marketing your company successfully. As you move to market, your customers will intuit whether or not you are who you say you are and decide quickly whether or not it's worth supporting your brand. This post covers the three fundamentals of creating a solid brand foundation which together guide your business, elevate your product, and build lasting connections with your customer. If done right, a solid brand foundation can increase the value of your business by 20% to 40%.
A solid brand foundation consists of three critical parts: Ethos, Purpose, Vision. These three principles detail who you are, why you exist and what you intend to accomplish. A strongly established ethos, defined purpose, and clear vision will lay the foundation to offer consistency in the marketplace, differentiate your brand and increase the value of your business. And it may lead you to accomplish your wildest dreams.
Ethos: Who you are.
You must know who you are to know where you can go.
Brand ethos defines the “who” behind everything you do. Ethos is a Greek word meaning “character.” The character, or personality, of your brand is how your brand expresses itself in a human way to connect with your audience. With a strong brand ethos, derived from its purpose and values, your brand can be relatable on the emotional level creating trust and loyalty with consumers and differentiation in the marketplace. As consumers, we are attracted to brands with personalities and values similar to our own. When a brand consistently expresses itself—when the brand matches what it says it is with its products and messaging—consumers who align with the brand’s outlook and values are more likely to trust what it has to say and buy what it has to offer. Accenture research found that nearly 60 percent of US consumers are influenced to buy a brand, product or service by the words, actions, values and beliefs of a company. Over time a consistent brand ethos will inspire customer affinity, build trust and lead to loyalty. According to the Motista Institute’s two-year study of 100,000 retail customers, “emotionally connected customers have a 306 percent higher lifetime value.” You could say, sharing values drives value.
Apple is one of the most notable examples of how a company can successfully create customer trust and loyalty, and differentiate itself in a crowded market, through brand ethos. In the early days of Apple, the computer hardware space was crowded and dominated by the likes of IBM, Intel, and Microsoft. Instead of stepping into the boxed-in scene and trying to fit in to compete, Steve Jobs and company burned their own trail by rebelling against the corporate models and square concepts of the PC world. Declaring themselves “pirates of silicon valley,” they attracted employees motivated by the brand’s counterculture ethos which solidified a spirited culture that began to bleed out into everything they did, including their “Get a Mac” ads. In their iconic “Think Different” commercial, Jobs’ narration worked to differentiate Apple as a renegade brand in a traditional marketplace, and set fire to their growing customer base.
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
In mocking PCs as clunky machines made for accountants, and expressing itself as the only option for the non-status quo, Apple began to create a brand ethos that attracted the segment of the market that had been missed by the others. For a product that was significantly more expensive than the market leader, Apple was able to differentiate itself and capture a huge portion of market share by connecting its brand with the consumer.
Apple changed the industry and the way startups in the Valley operated. And over thirty years later, without its visionary, they continue to inspire and foster loyalty with its way of being.
Purpose: Why you exist
You must know why you are to know where you can go.
Purpose is your reason for being, you’re deeper “why”, and it provides the grounds on which you build everything else. As the bedrock of your business it serves not only as the guiding truth for your brand but for your employees and customers alike. Having a clear purpose and sharing it with your entire team, and your customer, gives your business and products meaning. A great purpose will manifest itself in everything your brand does, from the customer experience, to marketing and product development.
Using a formula to calculate which brands have the most positive impact on personal and collective wellbeing, Havas Media Group has created an index of meaningful brands which was estimated according to their 2019 annual study to outperform the stock market by 134 percent. This evidence of consumer behavior clearly demonstrates the importance of purpose and solidifies itself as arguably the most valued aspect of brand marketing. Accenture Strategy’s most recent global survey of nearly 30,000 found that 62 percent of consumers want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues such as sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices. More than half of US consumers find brands that actively communicate their purpose more attractive.
With a strong brand purpose staying true to course in product development is easier as well. Tesla is a great example of how purpose has the power to create consistent results and sustained performance. In his Master Plan released in 2006, Elon Musk clearly defined Tesla’s “why” by stating, “the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.” Their purpose statement has since been refined to read, “Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” With a strongly defined reason to exist, Musk and Tesla were able to create a roadmap to get there. Musk literally laid out the exact steps he would take to accomplish his goals. In almost fourteen years, he has not strayed from their plan nor made a decision that goes against it, and as a result, Tesla has stayed consistent in their progression towards it.
A strong purpose bleeds into every aspect of your business and will quickly shape who you are. As Elon Musk himself put it: “Putting in long hours for a corporation is hard. Putting in long hours for a cause is easy.”
Vision: Your long term goal
Once you know why you are, you know where you’re going.
Vision is your long term goal, your idea of a better future and your place in it. It is the outcome of your purpose. While your purpose may be to create a more sustainable tomorrow, your vision tells you what you will be in the age of sustainability. It is the reason why your brand gets out of bed in the morning. Backed by an ethos that fuels trust and loyalty, a strong purpose-led vision means your brand can look more imaginatively ahead to where it dreams to go. With a roadmap in place, you become more focused, goal oriented, and less reactionary on the way.
55% of consumers believe brands actually have a more important role to create a better future than our governments.
Jeff Bezos and Amazon are a remarkable example of creating a vision and sticking to a plan to get there. Amazon’s vision statement is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” With this statement in place, Bezos developed a clear vision for where they intended to go and didn’t let anyone push them off the road to get there. In his initial letter to investors in 1997, he listed off Amazon’s intentions for running the business, stating, “Because of our emphasis on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh tradeoffs differently than some companies. Accordingly, we want to share with you our fundamental management and decision-making approach… We aren’t so bold as to claim that the above is the “right” investment philosophy, but it’s ours, and we would be remiss if we weren’t clear in the approach we have taken and will continue to take.”
By declaring how he would conduct business, he created a hyper-focused approach that has guided Amazon with detailed goals and kept them from being reactionary along the way. To this day, Bezos attaches his initial letter to every annual shareholder update. This story serves as a great example of reimagining what’s possible and introducing new ways of thinking through defining a clear vision and roadmap for where you are going. It has become the playbook that businesses follow to this day.
The foundation of branding is a critical recipe that will increase the value of your business. Without a clearly defined purpose, established ethos and detailed vision, you will struggle to maintain direction, differentiate yourself from your foe, and attract people to align with your cause. The more specific and focused you are the easier it will be. This overview of why you must consider developing a strong brand foundation is just the beginning. There is a lot more to learn to create a strong and consistent brand that will last. ATOMIC D can help your brand develop a foundation to guide your business, elevate your products and services, and build strong lasting connections with your customer. As experts in branding, we can help you create true north so that you can focus on delivering the products and services that will change the market and maybe even the world. Visit www.atomicd.co to learn more or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.