How to build a great brand

So you have a business. You thought about your product or service, about pricing and where you want to sell it. You have a business – but do you have a brand?

Think about how you make decisions about which clothes to buy. Or which watch. What resort in Bintan to choose for your next weekend getaway. How do you make that decision?

Yes, price is important. Also, recommendations by others, family and friends or customers in some online portals. But often you decide based on the Brand. On what you think about the brand in your mind, it’s reputation, history and quality promise.

Your customers are no different. And you don’t really want to compete on price, do you? Because the only way to compete on price is to be cheaper than the competition. Then they lower their prices to compete with you. And in the end, the business is no longer sustainable.
So you’ll want to make your business into a brand. But how do you do that? At first you have another look at something you looked at before, but from a different angle. Your target customer and the competition.

You would already have some idea about who you want to sell to, correct? Who they are, where they are, and what they are looking for. This is the first rule of building a brand:

You have to be relevant.

Trying to sell people something that they don’t need, or – even worse – that they don’t want, is difficult. So the better you understand your potential customers, their lives, their needs and wants, the better you can position your brand to fit right in. Do they crave for local food? Do they want to impress their friends by wearing an expensive watch? Are they looking for unique experiences when on holiday – to take pictures of and post all over their social media, for the world to see? Understand your customers. If you do this right, your brand will become the answer to their question, something they will look for and happily add to their lives. Because then your offer will be relevant to them.

But how about the other merchants that are offering more or less the same? The same food or luxury items or experiences? Which brings us to the second and even more important rule of Branding:

You need to be different.

Because if what you offer is exactly the same as someone else’s offer, maybe just by another name, people will often go for the cheaper version. Because: if both are the same, why pay more? Singaporeans are clever like that.

So if you want to charge more, you need to give people a reason to go for your brand instead of others. Maybe your quality is better – and you can prove why. More ingredients go into your soup. Or some special ingredients. Maybe it needs to boil for 24 hours to develop that richness in taste. Or you have some celebrity friends that have tried the soup and can attest to its quality. Maybe the recipe is secret, and you inherited it from your grand-grandfather. Or you have revived a forgotten craft. Or hired the master Potter of Asia to teach pottery classes to your resort guests.

Whatever it is, find that point of difference that makes customers choose your brand, and even pay more for it. And once you have found your differentiation, make it into a good story: your brand story. Which will be the topic of our next episode