8 key branding elements to make you more effective.

Nov 28, 2022 by Mark Baines Category: Business, Marketing

How your brand is perceived is a vital part of your sales success, not to mention your ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), recruitment, recognition, respect and resilience.

It reflects where you stand and what you mean to the world about us. As Jeff Bezos (Amazon) says ‘your brand is what other people are saying about you’, so it follows that if your brand commands respect it will help with stakeholder perceptions. And we all know how important those are!

I’d like to present the 8 key ways of communicating the value of your brand and how it will be perceived: Purpose, Mission, Vision, Values, Proposition, Positioning, Audience and Personality.

  • Purpose – how does your brand improve the world, or your customers, employees and other stakeholders?

There’s a lot of greenwash about this, but it’s important as GenZ employees prioritise purpose over salary when choosing a company to work for.

It’s the same for consumers: 57% of GenZ and Millennials expect a brand to produce evidence of a positive purpose (Deloitte’s) before they will choose it over a competitor – really!. So coke sells ‘happiness in a bottle’, marmite tells the story of Port Sunlight and using waste from the brewing industry, the Co-op promotes its ethics and Patagonia are the ultimate eco-warriors (a well-remembered headline was ‘Don’t buy this jacket’).

  • Mission – how is your brand going to achieve its ambition?

For example, read the inside of a Tony Chocolonely bar and you get their anti-slavery message, which pervades every aspect of their business (and prove it!). Google say ‘Don’t be evil’ (I know, it tends to get overlooked as they’re such a megacorp; but it’s there, nevertheless). Perhaps better known is John Lewis, which is all about the staff’s shared ownership, leading to wellbeing and happiness.

  • Vision – what is the brand’s ambition? Why are you in business?

For example Penguin Books democratised the classics by launching them as paperbacks. Body Shop’s Anita Roddick caused a retail revolution, and the brand is still faithful to that vision. They both have a clear vision which customers appreciate.

  • Values – what is the moral compass of your brand?

Plato said that all other values follow on from Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance, and this still holds true today: try thinking of a brand and put it to the test! Examples of good values are Sainsburys with their commitment to Fair Trade and organic products, and Innocent Drinks with, er… everything about them!

  • Proposition – why do I need the brand? This is a key objective of branding and messaging.

For example, Ronseal ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’, Brewdog are ‘the first carbon-negative brewer’, and Vans trainers are ‘off the wall’. Need I say more?!

  • Positioning – this is about the competitive landscape. Remember, ‘the battle is in the mind of the customer’ and ‘the perception is the reality’ (Ries and Trout).

A simple way to demonstrate positioning is through the supermarkets, as we’re all familiar with them: Waitrose rules the top tier, along with M&S Foodhalls; Tesco and Sainsburys are in the middle ground, while Asda, Morrisons and Lidl fight it out in the economy sector. Your brand tells your customers how you are positioned, and how you are positioned tells your customers what to think about you.

  • Audience – who are you talking to, and who’s interested? If you know your audience and are able to respond, you can get closer to marketing’s holy grail of ‘one message, one customer’, sometimes known as ‘perfect segmentation’!

For example, when Andy Murray was in the ascendancy at Wimbledon, the local Morrisons re-designed themselves as Murraysons and won a place in the national headlines. And many companies redesigned their packaging in red, white and blue for the Queen’s Jubilee (RIP!).

  • Personality – perhaps this is the most difficult brand attribute to acquire, but some organisations have cracked it.

For example, Richard Branson’s Virgin empire positively oozes with his own personality. Others have been successful by adopting personalities and making them famous, so they can then benefit from recall and the shared attributes – such as Compare The Market’s meercats, PG Tips’ monkeys and Lloyds’ black horse.

Get one of these 8 attributes of your brand right and you will be taking off; get all 8 right and you will be flying! Obviously this is not possible for us all, but if you are viewing your brand from your audience’s perspective, and you are being authentic, then you are on the right path!


Mark Baines

I’m grateful to Professor Paul Hutchens for his CIM Webinar ‘How Purpose can guide your brand to its full potential’.

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