A strong brand is worth a ton. It can generate sales, increase profit margins, attract the best talent, and make a difference in the world. Strong brands are resume builders, money-makers, and culture influencers. They can outlast negative press, build trust in consumers, and create barriers to entry for competitors.
Conversely, weak brands can’t.
A brand is everything your audience thinks or feels when they see or hear your name. Good, bad, right, wrong—it’s how you are perceived. So how strong is your brand? Here are some factors that contribute to brand strength:
Longevity: The longer the better, naturally. Longevity alone doesn’t make a brand strong, but strong brands take time. However, some brands have done quite well in a few short years by being very specific in their offerings and their audience.
Employee turnover rate: Since brand and culture are closely related—one is inside the company, the other is outside—then turnover matters. If you have high turnover, you’ve got a chink in your cultural armor. Your outside is only as good as your inside.
Unaided recall: Are you top of mind for your category? If I ask you to name a soft drink brand, you’ll say “Coke.” That’s unaided. If I ask you if you’ve heard of Coke, that’s aided recall. Many brands have strong aided recall simply because we’ve heard of them. But the strongest brands have high unaided recall, which translates to high top of mind—and that usually means you’ll get a shot at their business.
Profits: If you’ve shown steady profits year after year, that’s powerful. It doesn’t have to be huge profit, just steady. Strong brands grow over time, and trends are more important than spikes or dips.
Innovation: Have you introduced anything new (products, people, services) in the last 24 months? If your company isn’t the expert or leader in your field, your brand probably isn’t as strong as it could be.
Credibility: Have you been in the news for something positive in the last 12 months? 6 months? 3 months? Being recognized by a third party is huge. I’ve heard it said that third party credibility is worth seven times what you would pay in an ad for the same time slot or space.
Reputation: Have you been in the news for something negative in the last 12 months? What about social media? Negative reviews and comments do affect your brand. Unfortunately, even untrue information that is negative can do damage. The good news is there are ways to undo and overcome the bad press. Reputation management strategies are employed to help overcome bad images, but more importantly, to prevent and preempt bad press.
Customer Loyalty: What percentage of your clients/customers are repeat customers? Strong brands have loyal customers.
Growth: What percentage of your customers are “new”, within the last 6 months? Strong brands are continually growing their customer base and have a strategy for getting new customers.
Community: What community activities / cause-related activities are you known for? Companies that participate in the community even when they are not selling something tend to do better in the long run. But you have to be visible in doing so. I know some firms who give back, but nobody knows. I admire their humility, but I don’t count on simple donation being a brand builder.
Your brand is everything people think or feel when they see or hear your name. Strong brands are important because they last. They make things change. They contribute and add value to our lives.
What are some strong brands you can think of, and why?