The very first thing to remember about branding is that its power lives in the minds and hearts of your customers. The ultimate end goal is to achieve a group of loyal customers that are actively promoting your brand for you. So, how do you do that?
The 4 steps to brand development
A dude called Keller came up with a model he calls the CBBE, Customer-based brand equity and these are his 4 steps to developing brands.
Customers need to be able to identify you amongst a sea of other players in your product category. The objective at this stage is to build deep, broad, brand awareness so that customers can recognise and recall your brand when it's time to make a purchase for your kind of product.
Here is where you start building your brand meaning in the minds of your customers. You will need to link very specific associations to your brand so that people know what you stand for. These are your Points of Parity (things that are the same as your competitors) and your Points of Difference (things that are unique to your brand). For example; when I think of Volvo, I think safety. When I think of Apple, I think innovation and design.
This is where you manage the response; what customers think and feel about your brand. The objective here is to achieve positive reactions, either following the emotional route from imagery (brand personality, value, history & experiences) to feelings (warmth, fun, excitement, social status) or the cognitive route from performance (product durability, service, efficiency, price) to judgements (quality, credibility, superiority). For example; if the product breaks after the first use (performance), I'm going to judge it as poor quality.
They say you don't make friends with salad, but they obviously haven't tried my potato salad (it's a cracker). Well brands need friends too, and the perfect friends for your brand are your customers. This final step is where you turn that brand response into intense, active and loyal relationships.
After we have followed these four steps, the objective is to achieve brand resonance. This is where customers are loyal, have developed attitudinal attachment, engage actively with your brand and potential customers and have developed a sense of community or friendship with your brand. Have you ever heard someone argue that one brand is better than another? Are you Holden or Ford, Apple or Samsung? These brands were able to achieve such strong relationships with their customers that now they are out there, promoting their brand for them. Why? Because over time, they developed trust, had some good times together and they were there when they needed them. They built a recognisable identity, backed it up with meaning, tweaked their imagery and performance to get the right response and nurtured the relationships that they made. Awesome 👏