Checklist for a Great Brand.

Any smart entrepreneur understands a strong brand is vital. (It separates you from your competitors. It enables you to charge more. It allows you to add new products easily. It makes people feel proud to buy from you. It increases loyalty).

But many people are not sure how to create an outstanding brand.

I’ve spent over 30 years creating and enhancing company brands, for some of the largest and most successful companies in the world, from Apple to Coca Cola. So today I’d like to give you a quick brand building checklist, to help you make the most of your brand.

Have a read and see how your brand measures up.

Great brands have the following characteristics:

1. THEY OWN A CLEAR SPACE IN THE CONSUMER’S MIND.

That could be a logical space – your product is cheaper or better made for instance. Or it could be an emotional space; your offering may make your customer feel safe, sexy, or smart, for example. Whichever way you go, you must make sure your space is clearly defined in the customer’s mind. When they think of your product, service or company, they should never have a muddled vision.

2. THEY ARE DIFFERENTIATED FROM THEIR COMPETITION.

If you can think of numerous brands that make the same promise as you, in a similar way, then you will find it hard to build a potent brand. (It can be done, usually through brilliant advertising, major PR, or just by being the first in a category, but it’s difficult to pull off).

Enduring brands are distinct from their competitors. Club Med is vastly distinct from Thomas Cook Holidays. Red Bull is far away from Coke. Ferrari differs greatly from Mercedes. Each of these brands are strong because they don’t try to be all things to all people. Stake your position and make sure it’s always differentiated from the pack.

3. THEY LIVE THEIR MESSAGE.

Most brands are merely skin deep. Once you get involved with the company you see that they don’t really live the brand positioning, it’s little more than a slogan.

Stellar brands make sure that every touch point is in keeping with their brand positioning. For example, at FedEx they pick up the phone in one ring. When I bought a Porsche I was soon invited to an advanced driving school. At The Como Hotel in Melbourne they don’t just say they treat you well, they offer you a menu of different bath experiences you can have in your room (and your own rubber duck).

These brands are alive. They are congruent. They are real. They can be experienced daily, not just in their marketing.

4. THEY DEEPLY UNDERSTAND THEIR CUSTOMERS.

Most companies are not really sure what their customers really want. Oh sure, they know the basics – for example if they run a car company they know their customers want it well made, to look nice and to be good value. But rarely have their interrogated their customers to the point where they really, really understand what they seek from their product, practically and emotionally.

How do you find that out? You ask them – via surveys and regular in depth interviews. And observe what they do, not just what they say.

Look behind the obvious for the real motive. For example, people who buy drills don’t want drills. They want holes.

So these are the crucial four elements for creating a mighty brand. How many do you score highly on?

Get all these elements right and you won’t just have a strong brand.

You’ll have a highly profitable enterprise.