The 1st Rule of Branding

Posted on 9th November 2015

Unwritten recently wrote this article for the new North East Times and received a number of emails from discouraged business owners and marketers, many of whom felt they were spending too much time and money promoting their brand, and seeing too little a return on their investment. It seemed to strike a cord with those who made contact so we thought we’d share it on our website too.

One of the most important lessons you can learn about branding is that it’s not really about your brand; it’s not even about your products or your services, and it’s certainly never about you. It’s all about your buyer. Potential buyers care only about what your brand can do for them, how it can solve their problem or make their life easier, better, happier.

Yet time and time again we see business owners developing brands that are an extension of themselves. It stands to reason as most businesses begin as a very personal endeavor. And when a new business owner has little to no marketing experience (or is too busy building their business from the ground up), they often default to the voice they’re most familiar with… their own.

For the most part, this strategy (or lack thereof) can work short term; a new business owner’s passion and enthusiasm can draw in clients and develop the business. But over time as the business grows – small, medium or large – it’s common for other duties to take precedent and so the original start-up marketing strategy remains unchanged, the brand continuing to reflect the personality of the owner as opposed to the needs and attitudes of the buyer

Often years can go by, promising businesses that originally experienced high growth start to plateau. Marketing managers and sometimes marketing teams are drafted in to help push the business to the next level but still the owner keeps a tight rein, not wanting to lose control. A small fortune is spent on brochure design, advertising campaigns and the latest in web design, but still with a focus on the commodity as opposed to the issues the commodity addresses for the buyer. If this sounds familiar then maybe it’s time to try a different approach, a one focused primarily on the requirements of your buyer. Avoid jumping straight in with a homepage filled with generic facts, such as when your company formed, where you’re based, number of employees or a long list of products and services. Instead spend time defining the obstacles facing your buyers today and then show you understand fully their specific needs and address their challenges with whatever it is you are selling.

Its not about you

Don’t waste valuable time and marketing collateral promoting a brand that talks of you, instead make sure your brand tells your buyer that you provide exactly what they need in order to improve their situation.

For example, if you’re B2C think about how your brand solves a problem, makes life easier or perhaps more enjoyable? If you’re B2B does your brand help increase profit, improve visitor numbers or perhaps lead to an improved customer experience?

Whether you’re owner manager or marketing manager, consider the following before starting your next branding project, be it a new brand launch, re-brand or brand refresh:

  • Clearly define your buyers: Gather key information through a buyer persona profiling exercise. This will help you accurately and effectively create an identity and core messaging aimed directly at the people who are most likely to buy your goods or services.
  • Set fundamental brand values with your buyers in mind: What do they need and expect from a company such as yours, both rationally and emotionally?
  • Ensure consistent execution of your identity and key messaging: Work with a creative agency that not only produces beautifully executed design, but that also works hard to understand your sales and marketing objectives. Your creative agency should be ready and willing to get to know your buyers as well as you do, and able to advise on the ways in which to do this.

Determining these buyer-focused branding factors is a great way to begin down the path of developing a truly effective brand that your buyers’ trust and what to engage with, and a brand that shows you a return on the time and money you’ve invested in to it over the years.

For more information on developing a brand that is highly relevant to it’s intended audience and that delivers you a commercial return, call 0191 300 8550 or visit