MT Expert's Ten Top Tips: Build a better brand in 2010

How can you influence the way customers think about your business? Here are ten top tips.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Branding isn't just about design or logos; it's about the way customers feel towards your business. And in the wake of the recession, with trust in such short supply, it's the companies with the strongest brands that will come our on top. So what should you be doing to make sure you're putting the right messages across? MT asked branding specialist Mark Artus, CEO of 1HQ, for his top tips.

1. Keep nurturing your brand
Your brand is more than a logo; it’s the embodiment of your business amongst its customers and the focal point around which their opinions form. Think of it as a living thing that needs constant nurturing to ensure healthy growth.

2. Understand your central promise
Be crystal clear who your consumer or customer is, and what you do for them better than anyone else can. These two things make for the essential promise of your brand. Understand it, and stick to it.

3. Don't just rely on advertising
Identify the most effective way to communicate this promise. Advertising is one way but there are many others. If budgets are tight, be focused in your approach and creative in your thinking.

4. Keep it real
Socrates said: 'The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear'. These days, it’s never been more important to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk. Don’t just say what you do – do what you say.

5. Be different

Wherever possible take a distinctive stance in the market in which you operate. Occupying the middle ground only leaves you open to attack from more angles.

6. Keep trying to learn
Never stop expanding your knowledge of your customer – but don’t expect answers from them, only clues.

7. Influence the irrational
Remember there will always be an emotional, sometimes irrational component in a customers’ relationship with your brand. It can’t always be controlled, but if understood, it can be influenced.

8. Stay true to your principles
Change is inevitable if your brand is going to stay contemporary and relevant. But don’t be tempted to abandon founding principles in favour of the latest trend.

9. Try to rebuild trust
After the deepest recession of modern times, trust is in short supply. Brands with authenticity, responsibility and integrity will prosper.

10. Think about your 'One Hard Question'
With times still tough, and budgets still tight, focus is essential. Often we spend too much time coming up with answers, and not enough on ensuring we’ve got the right question. What’s the One Hard Question your brand is facing this year?

Mark Artus is CEO of 1HQ, one of Europe’s largest branding companies. Mark has been the brains behind the advertising campaigns for the likes of Kraft, Nestle, Rowntree and Heinz, among many others.

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