Like so many other aspects of life, branding is easier said than done. It comes down to mastering a set of behaviors that are theoretically uncomplicated, but are also difficult to put into practice consistently.
For instance, I wrote in Branding Is Simple, “‘It’s the relationship, stupid.’ Strong brands form strong relationships with customers. It’s that simple. When your customers know your brand, like it, and trust it — they’ll choose it first.”
Building strong customer relationships is theoretically uncomplicated, but achieving the desired outcome is complicated. There are no silver bullets or simple paths, because the brand building process is multifactorial.
Simple Solutions Create Confusion
Too many complex problems are reduced into simple yet ineffective maxims.
Dieters, for instance, are told the key to lasting weight loss is to “Eat less. Move more.” That sounds simple enough, but the science proves otherwise. According to Jason Fung, author of the Obesity Code, 99% of diets fail. He argues convincingly that obesity is more than the amount of food you eat or the amount you exercise, it’s a multifactorial disease.
Fung writes, “Virtually all diseases of the human body are multifactorial. Consider cardiovascular disease. Family history, age, gender, smoking, high blood pressure and physical activity all influence, perhaps not equally, the development of heart disease.”
He continues, “There is no one single cause of obesity. Do calories cause obesity? Yes, partially. Do carbohydrates cause obesity? Yes, partially. Does fiber protect us from obesity? Yes, partially. Does insulin resistance cause obesity? Yes, partially. Does sugar cause obesity? Yes, partially. All these factors converge on several hormonal pathways that lead to weight gain.”
Jason Fung’s message on obesity is applicable to business. Complex challenges, like growing your brand, involve addressing multiple factors to achieve your desired outcome.
Simple answers to multifactorial problems are rarely going to give you the results that you want.
The Solution, It Depends
How do you grow a Sticky Brand? It depends.
As a business owner, I hate hearing “It depends.” I don’t want to pay for “audits” and “discovery calls” and other forms of naval gazing. I want solutions that deliver clear and tangible outcomes.
But as a leader, I have to be accountable. There are no silver bullets, simple maxims, and easy answers to growing my business. My team and I have to master a lot of little things to achieve our goals.
The solution to your branding goals depends on multiple factors: size of business, reputation, position in the marketplace, brand awareness, structure and effectiveness of your team, ability to iterate and change your business model, and financial resources.
Your solution is found in your strategic plan — how you will move your organization From X to Y by When. The levers you choose to pull will depend on your situation.
Where to Start with a Brand Strategy
Branding is theoretically uncomplicated, but the brand building process is multifactorial. I recommend starting with an exercise to tackle three big questions:
- Where is your brand today, and where does it need to move towards?
- What’s working, and what isn’t working?
- Who here is part of the team moving forward, and who has stopped growing and cannot keep up?
When you embrace the complexity of your situation you can simplify your path forward, and be able to pull the levers that will have a measurable impact on your business.