A brand must...
1. Stand for something. It should know its customers well and its values should align with its customers’ values. It should epitomize specific customer values so well that customers will want to use the brand as a way to express their values to the world.
2. Strive to be unique in relevant ways. Forget about claiming to be the quality, service or innovation leader (all of which have been greatly overused). Be unique. Be different. Be unique and different in ways that really matter to customers.
3. Make promises and deliver on those promises. Yes, promise relevant differentiated benefits to your customers. But, even more importantly, consistently deliver on those promises at every point of customer contact. Consider designing brand promise proof points into every customer touch point. For even greater impact, consider creating new customer touch points.
4. Interact with its customers, not sell to them. With the advent of various technologies, including the Internet, customers are now in control. They will filter out anything that they do not find entertaining, interesting or informative. Interact with them as a friend would. Find ways to help them.
5. Constantly anticipate customer needs and innovate. Brands cannot rest on their laurels. Become the Apple within your category. Don’t be risk adverse. Take your category by storm. Leapfrog the competition through relevant innovation.
6. Co-create itself with its customers. Work with your customers to evolve your brand and its products and services according to your customers’ needs and desires. Harley-Davidson executives go on H.O.G. Rallies with their customers to experience the brand with its customers.
7. Create a unique purchase or usage experience. People pay more to Build-A-Bear themselves. Consider the iPhone (smartphone) experience versus the typical mobile phone experience.
8. Find ways to become more and more important to its customers. Most brands have discovered that is far easier and more profitable to meet an increasing number of needs for existing customers than to try to appeal to new customers. Become an expert in meeting your target customers’ needs.
9. Be consistent in its identity. There is usually no need to change names, taglines, logos, etc. People need to recognize and trust brands over time. Don’t confuse their ability to do so.
10. Build awareness. A brand can offer the best products in the world backed by the best service at the lowest prices, delivering the best overall value, but if no one has heard of the brand, then all of this is for naught.