Leading companies are, somehow, able to stay on top of the thousands of brands available today. What can we learn from them, asks Lawrence Flude, Managing Director, HKLM Middle East.
Brands like Coco Cola, BMW and Apple continue to stand out as some of the world’s most valuable brands, whether they are measured on financial or marketing metrics. They consistently generate demand, maintain sales and grow market shares. In essence, they have lasting value.
What qualities do they possess that enable them to maintain their positions of supremacy over decades, through recessions and changing leadership? What can we learn from the practices of such companies?
There are five principles and practices that great brands follow.
1. Great brands are built on a compelling idea. They own a distinct position in the mind of the customer. They continuously deliver on their brand promise. Simplicity and clarity are key: FedEx promises “The World On Time” and BMW promises “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. Vital, too, is that employees are aligned with the brand promise, so that they can deliver on customer expectations. The best brands create unique, distinctive and memorable experiences.
2. They have superior products, services, technologies and processes. It’s easier to convince customers to buy from you if what you sell and how you sell it is first class. Think Apple.
3. They identify their competitive advantage and stay differentiated from the competition. Coca-Cola trades on its heritage: it is “The Real Thing”, it is “The Original”. Pepsi has successfully defined itself against Coca-Cola, instead being the sociable, young, “now” brand. Great brands embed a memorable (and preferably emotional) hook in the customers’ psyche.
4. They stay relevant to target customers. Leading brands listen to, understand and address their customers’ needs. They innovate, renew and refresh themselves so that they stay top of mind and keep customers loyal. Sometimes they even create needs: Sony created the Walkman that enabled a new combination of quality music on-the-move. Apple created the iPod and iTunes, and later the iconic iPhone.
5. They stay true to their core purpose and values. Disney is one of the world’s 10 most valuable brands. Central to its journey has been ardent adherence to its purpose “to make people happy” and values: no cynicism; nurturing wholesome American values; creativity, dreams and imagination; fanatical attention to consistency and detail; preservation and control of the Disney magic. The essence of the brand is central to the strategic direction of the entire business.
Lawrence Flude is the Managing Director of HKLM Middle East. HKLM is an independent and integrated strategic branding group with offices in the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
Lawrence has specialised experience in delivering solutions in marketing, brand and communication strategy, corporate identity, packaging and brand activation. He has worked in numerous sectors including hospitality, financial services, IT and telecommunications, FMCG, industrial, sport and real estate with clients including SABMiller, InterContinental Hotels Group, Sun International, Emaar and the International Cricket Council. He can be e-mailed at LFlude@hklmgroup.com