Great brands have several things in common. First and foremost is distinction. They know who they are, what they do differently and why they do it. Well-branded companies drive their stake in the ground and clearly communicate their market position, both internally and externally.
Great companies also:
Stay ahead of the competition
Staying ahead of the competition is a business practice — always looking at technological advancements, R&D outcomes and information sharing — not only with clients but also with employees, suppliers and their channel.
When a surprise change, launch, advancement or simple occurrence happens, it sends a message to competitors, employees and the industry that the company is the leader and can be counted on for breakthrough ideas.
Deliver the brand experience at every touch point
Whether it’s the message the CEO gives in a speech at an industry gathering, the description HR uses when interviewing prospective employees or the messaging on the website, a great company delivers the brand experience at every interaction with all of its audiences. And, all employees can deliver the brand experience.
Have a strong sense of internal clarity
When a company has clarity around its brand, it’s much easier to educate and inspire all employees to live the brand. The importance of employees being brand ambassadors cannot be overstated. The brand essence should be demonstrated by leadership and trickle down.
Keep customers and their needs at heart
Second-to-none customer service must be the standard. Great brands are attractive to good customers. And good customers are worth holding onto with a vice-like grip. If we serve them well, they will likely move from good to great customers.
As business leaders, when we stay too busy with current projects and the daily tasks — not looking forward to where we want to take the company — we tend to get blindsided by unexpected challenges or customer curveballs. Leading companies are just that: forward-looking leaders.
Evolve with changing times
Truly great brands evolve. Look at GE, Apple, UPS and even stalwart brands like Tiffany. They’ve kept their brands relevant over decades and through a sea of changes in audiences and economic gyrations. Great companies stay one step ahead and in a constant state of change.
Articulate how they respond to challenges
All great brands have a “brand lens” to strategically guide them in responding to challenges, unplanned occurrences and even mergers and acquisitions in a brand-driven way.
Make the world a better place
Great companies do more than write checks to support charities. They engage their employees and find causes that customers will support. They change the world. McDonald’s Corp. opened the first Ronald McDonald House in the early 1970s and that charity now serves almost 9 million families each year.
Harness their brand to deliver incremental value
It is a well-known statistic that 60 to 70 percent of a company’s value is intangible. Intangible value is made up of patents, trademarks, future sales and brand — all of which grows incremental value.
Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders.