Building a powerful, consistent and enduring brand that speaks to your customers is essential to support business growth. As the Marketing Director for Swarovski Australia and NZ – a retail brand with more than 120 years of rich heritage – Victoria Brown is an expert on what is needed in order to cultivate a strong brand presence. Recently, we were fortunate enough to have Victoria share her expertise with us as part of our Women in Focus webinar series. Here are some of the key takeaways from her presentation, including some key frameworks that you can use to create a new brand, or build on an existing one.
Why is your brand important?
As Victoria explains, a business’ brand represents significant financial equity. “More often than not it is the business’ core asset,” she says. “When a customer connects to and trusts a brand, it can do the most valuable thing of all: influence a consumer’s purchasing decision.”
3 co-dependant elements
As Victoria explains, your brand is also intrinsically linked to two other pillars of your business: your customer and your product or service. “It’s easy to focus on your brand and build a stunning brand image, but if your product doesn’t actually deliver, or you don’t know how to talk to your customers, then you’ve basically built something that’s just a façade… or a hollow brand,” she says.
“Your customer knowledge needs to be really strong in order to create a strong and authentic brand – even if you’re already established,” Victoria says. Victoria recommends spending time researching who your customers are, what they are looking for, what problem your product or service solves for them, how they like to be communicated to, and what media platforms they are using.
Product or service
Similarly, your product or service must deliver on its promise. “When your product does what it says it’s going to do, you reaffirm to the customer that they made a good choice,” Victoria says. “This makes them feel good about their purchase and they start to trust you,” she says. “The commercial side of that is that they are more likely to repurchase and tell their friends that your product works.”
Creating your brand framework
Victoria recommends establishing a clear framework to guide your branding. “At Swarovski, we use a pyramid-style framework to ensure that we make decisions and deploy all of our activations in a really consistent way,” she says. The framework comprises of four key elements, like a blueprint for your brand:
1. Brand promise
What is your brand going to do for your customers? “To determine your promise, you need to know who your customer is, what you want to do for them, and the impact that you want to have on them,” Victoria says.
2. Brand character/personality
If your brand was a person, how would they talk to you and what would they sound like? “Your brand’s character will inform how you speak to your customers, how you tell your story, and how your customers feel when they interact with you,” Victoria says. “Remember to include some positive characteristics, for example ‘friendly’ or ‘professional’, as these will have a positive impact on your customer,” she says.
3. Reasons to believe
Think about what your product or service offers that’s different from any other – the reasons why your customer should believe that you’re going to deliver on your brand promise. “These include the things that set you apart from your competitors… your point of difference,” Victoria explains.
Your reasons to believe will be a great source of inspiration for your brand story-telling, shining through in campaigns, press releases, and social media. They’ll also help you build an emotional connection with your customers, which Victoria says can positively impact their intention to purchase.
4. Visual assets
Your visual assets can include your logo, colours and any other imagery you might have, and they should be aligned to your brand character and reasons to believe. “A good tip for colour selection is to look at emotional colour theory – for example, red is a colour that we associate with food,” Victoria suggests.
Bringing your brand framework to life
Once you’ve established your brand framework, Victoria recommends mapping out all of your customer touchpoints – the different places that your customer comes into contact with or experiences your brand. “This will help you ensure your brand framework translates in practical terms, and determine how it can be used to create marketing and advertising strategies,” she says.
Owned – touchpoints that you fully own and have complete control over.
“You need to ensure that every customer experience you can control delivers your brand message,” Victoria says. “Focusing on the detail here will help you create a standout experience,” she says.
Examples: product, packaging, website, blog, instore/in-person, content, emailers/newsletter, customer service
Shared/social – your social media platforms.
“This is a really important part of your brand communication strategy,” Victoria says. “Your social touchpoints are where most customers will go as their first point of contact to find out more, ask questions, or share feedback,” she says. “You need to be totally committed to creating and managing your social platform(s).”
Examples: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn
Earned – touchpoints you elicit non-paid, positive exposure or endorsement from.
“Start with the things that don’t cost anything (especially if you’re on a limited budget), like emailing press releases and brand storytelling to relevant influencers and journalists in your industry,” Victoria recommends. “If you have/can afford to send samples, definitely do that.”
Paid – all paid advertising.
“Make sure that your advertising looks and feels aligned to your brand – for example, if one of your brand characteristics is cheeky, make sure that your advertising is cheeky and fun,” Victoria advises. “If you want pure brand awareness on a budget, I recommend using digital and social media such as Instagram stories, Pinterest, or LinkedIn – whichever is relevant to your product or service.”
Examples: digital, social, TV, print
Evolving and maintaining your brand
As Victoria explains, it’s important to evaluate your brand on an ongoing basis. “You need to continue to develop and maintain your brand experience, factoring in all of the touchpoints – and make sure you’re checking in with your brand pyramid,” she says. “Each time you need to make a key decision, ask yourself: ‘Is this in the right brand character? Does it help us deliver on our promise?’”
To refresh or evolve your existing brand, Victoria recommends utilising complementary seasonal assets and campaigns. “These will allow you to change and update your brand each season, for example through fresh colours or fresh images,” she says. “You may also find yourself redoing your brand pyramid after three years to reflect that you’ve launched into new categories, added new products or services, or your core audience has evolved,” she says.