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Brand Strategy For Startups

Building New Brands On A Strong Foundation

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Ask any architect and they will tell you the most important aspect of design is not the structure but its foundation. If you’re going to create a brand that endures, you’ll have to build its value on a solid foundation.

Of course foundations aren’t as glamorous as the stunning design of the architecture itself, but they are critical to supporting not only the weight of the building, but essential to withstand the constant movement of the earth and the erosion of the soil around it.

Like any great structure, nothing is more fundamental to the enduring success of your early brand building initiatives than a strong foundation on which your bigger future will rest upon. The foundation you create will determine the stability and sustainability of your brand going forward.

Strong foundations are the beginning of success. If you don’t have a solid foundation for your brand firmly in place, it’ll be next to impossible to withstand the winds of eroding attention spans, clutter, competition and the unpredictable forces of marketplace change.

When creative brand owners are visioning their future, the first action they must undertake is finding the right soil for building their dream on. Excellent builders (and marketing dreamers) start at the ground level…in the dirt building a foundation worthy of their highest ideals and biggest vision!

Building a strong foundation for your brand is the most important attribute in creating value for others.

For brand owners bringing new value to the marketplace, here’s what you need to consider before you break ground on your next big brand idea:

Build your brand’s foundation on good ground. Don’t build your castles in the sand is a timeless cliché you’ve heard time and again. It’s also timeless advice many brand owners have failed to heed. In the mad rush to build awareness, trial and purchase, some like to take shortcuts and go right into advertising and promotion. The brand’s “philosophy” is the “good ground” on which to build. The good ground of your brand’s philosophy will include its purpose, its true north, its values, its character and integrity. Does the philosophy of the brand support the successful design of its future?  Is the brand’s philosophy solid as bedrock or liquid as sand?

The brand foundation must fit naturally into the landscape that surrounds it. In architecture it’s called site planning. In business and brand management it’s called strategic planning. Your foundation has to fit naturally and beautifully into the lay of the land otherwise known as the marketplace. How you position your foundation relative to other players in the category landscape is critical in defining your unique value to customers. You must know the lay of the land, your customer’s desires, hopes, aspirations and needs. Where does the brand fit within the mind of the target customer? Who does the brand serve?

Strong foundations go deep into the ground. If you have an Empire State Building size vision for your brand, you’ll have to build your foundation deep into the ground. This means you must focus all your creative energy on a deep and narrow value proposition. What is the “one thing” that makes your new brand highly valued and distinctive among all other choices? Develop deep knowledge in the one thing customers love … don’t generalize–specialize! Big ideas require deep and narrow foundations!

Strong foundations are well designed and engineered. How your products, services and customer experiences are designed is a critical element in the foundation of your brand building. How you create and deliver value requires smart engineering and elegant design…everything in the customer’s experience of engagement must be well thought out and properly executed. This is foundational to the make-up of extraordinary brands. Design matters and determines competitive advantage. Make your strong and enduring brand foundation beautiful!

Strong foundations are made of quality materials. If your brand is to grow and stand the test of time, it must be comprised of the highest quality materials. Build your brand foundation in association with high quality partners, collaborators, employees and suppliers. Brands are created in an ecosystem of diverse talents of people whose passion for excellence and success is equal and greater to your own. A foundation is only as strong as the quality of the materials used. Trusted relationships are what bond enduring brands with those that are the makers and the users.

A strong foundation will protect your investment. If you’re planning to put something remarkable and extraordinary on top of your foundation, you will need to invest a great deal of time, energy and money. The quality of your foundation must support and protect the marketing investment you make in your brand’s future. Building the early foundations is not as glamorous as creating advertising campaigns. Remember just because most of your foundation is below ground and not seen by your customers, doesn’t mean you can compromise any aspect of its integrity.

At the beginning, persuasion and promotion is far less important than the strategic work of laying a solid foundation built on good ground– fits naturally into the brandscape, is well designed and comprised of quality material. The lasting value of your brand depends upon getting the foundation right from day one.

Build your foundation in The Brand Strategy Workshop For Startups

Compete. Win. Learn. The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World
Featuring John Sculley October 17-18, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida
A unique, competitive-learning workshop limited to 50 participants
As in Your marketplace — some will win, some will lose, All will learn

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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