Building blocks

It's a brand war out there and even more so in the startup world where everyone is grappling for early adopter customers that will help them grow. Every brand has an identity, but it often gets lost or confused over time in the day-to-day grind of running a business and reacting to immediate opportunities and threats. Some leaders will go to their grave proclaiming they know their business identity, however for many, their marketing efforts won't be paying off the way they should. They need to do better. Doing better comes down to the basics, stripping everything back and using common sense to make things easier. Stu Lewin, of BTL Brands, gives us his top 5 tips on how to build a strong brand using a 'less is more' mantra.

  1. Focus on the audience: Do you know who will be your customers in the first 12 months after launch? If you don’t, you should do. Conduct an audit of the marketplace to understand who your customers could be and what your competition is doing well at and not so well. You need to understand how you are going to do better than your competition.
  1. Answer the 'why', 'how', 'what': Uninspiring brands communicate from the outside in. They start with what they sell and what the features are, never addressing why they do it or why you should believe in it. You need to pin down the DNA of the brand. In order to elevate a company from a series of products into a brand, you need to look at the bigger picture and start with some simple but critical questions:
  • Why does the brand exist?
  • How does the brand fulfil its purpose?
  • What does the brand do or sell?
  1. Don't focus on the product: You’re selling a brand, not a product. In the rapid-fire digital age we're in, you’ve got about 20 seconds to make an impression on consumers, which certainly doesn't provide much time for the product to shine. Create a brand manifesto and stick to it. A declaration of the company's beliefs and what it stands for will push everything that company does in one clear direction and help to create an emotional connection with your customers.
  1. Avoid siloes across all facets of the business: You cannot be alone with your own thoughts when building a brand identity. Consult with an agency, a consultant, or simply another set of eyes, to think about the brand laterally. Just be sure not to make decisions in a silo and rely on only your own opinion and that of your colleagues.
  1. 5. Declutter: Embrace the process of stripping back all the different layers of clutter, stuff and noise that could be plaguing your brand (and invariably most brands). Attune to the 'less is more' mindset: a very simple but effective mantra coined by the no-nonsense modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. You need to get to the core essence of the brand and to do this you'll need to be quite ruthless when working out what needs to stay and what needs to go.
Stu Lewin is the founder of BTL Brands