Marketers and companies that develop the most effective brand philosophy are often seen as magicians. When defined and applied correctly, brand philosophy can prove to be extremely beneficial for your business as it helps represent your competitive edge as compared to other players by your distinctive act of dealing with employees, customers, and stakeholders.
This article will guide you from the start of discovering what a brand philosophy is to a proven and tested process to develop your own. This includes what a brand philosophy is, why it is important, and the step-by-step process to develop one yourself.
What is a brand philosophy?
Brand philosophy can be defined as a set of values, code of conduct, and principles that define the overall ambience and culture of the organization and formulating the practices and guidelines that the business adheres to.
With that being said, brand philosophy should be established before the business is formed to act as a foundation and roadmap for all parties involved.
Your brand philosophy represents your competitive edge as compared to other players by your distinctive act of dealing with employees, customers, and stakeholders. It is a strong branding tool with the existing and prospective customers recognizing and registering your brands for your unique facets and values.
Why is brand philosophy so important?
At least 7 of the 14 reasons why businesses fail are (indirectly) related to brand philosophy. Defining and developing an effective brand philosophy can help you build customer loyalty and your business grow sustainably.
Establishing a brand philosophy can benefit your business in a variety of ways. Here are some of the top benefits of having a well-defined brand philosophy:
Drive your customer value through aligned values
Did you know that two-thirds of companies compete on customer experience? In the current business environment, companies compete not only on price, but on customer experience, which is why companies with a customer experience mindset tend to drive 4-8% higher revenue than the rest of their industries.
It promotes a positive workplace
Strong brand philosophy helps businesses form a positive and aligned company culture. It makes the atmosphere in the workplace more pleasant because employees are well aware and feel an integral part of the organization. According to Forbes, highly engaged teams with pleasant employees show 21% increased profitability and are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
Stand out in your industry
A strong brand philosophy helps brands build value propositions by acting as a guideline for the entire organization to adhere for cohesion and ethics. A well-defined and well-aligned organization gives them distinctive characteristics that are difficult for their competitors to imitate.
When brands have their own set of values and consistently live up to them, they convey authenticity to their audiences. 88 percent of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support. It is this authenticity that helps them align with their customer value.
The key to marketing success
Did you know a strong brand philosophy has the potential to have a great impact on your marketing efforts? It is not only because all marketing efforts have to be aligned with the brand philosophy, but it is also crucial for the PR activities of the firm, as it is the foundation on which the brand values are formulated and communicated.
For example, if you have a business that is present on social media, having a strong brand identity attracts more and better quality user-generated content. The content shared by your customers helps you build brand trust and in turn attracts a wider audience to buy your products and services. In fact, 79 percent of people say that user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
Enhance the customer experience
Your brand’s philosophy can supply your team with a clear purpose and brand aspirations that they could use as filters for making decisions. Therefore make sure your employees know how to properly display your brand to the public. Aligned teams are more capable of supporting a customer at each point of their customer journey.
Nowadays customers prefer their needs met as soon as possible. By offering them a simple solution to their complex needs, you warm more trust and build customer loyalty. Remember people don’t buy just things, they buy emotions as well. A strong brand helps guide customers toward the experience and the emotions you want them to have, and it’s also an essential part of establishing your credibility.
How to develop a brand philosophy?
While creating a brand philosophy is relatively easy, maintaining and elevating it throughout the whole company is considered a form of art. This is because if you want to get the most out of your philosophy, then developing a simple and authentic statement is the way to go.
In order to develop a well-defined brand philosophy, here are four main questions you should answer:
Discover and define the nature of your business
The very first step towards developing your own brand strategy should be sitting down with your team and brainstorming. The aim of this session is to define the purpose of the business that you are intending to start. In addition, you need to identify and define the products and services that you aim to offer on the market.
Identify the unique selling point of the business.
In order to distinguish itself in the competition, every business needs to have a unique selling point (USP). The USP is the core benefit that makes the product or service you are selling stand out. It should answer the following question: “Why would someone buy this product over their competitors’?”.
Think of it as a roadmap and the brand position you want to cultivate in the mind of your audience and market. Everything eventually leads to your USP. It can be anything, such as quality, affordability, or quick service; it has to match the nature of the business and the vision of the firm.
It’s important to find your focus and let that inform all the other parts of your brand as you build it. Here are some questions to help you determine your focus and personality:
- What is my unique position in the market? Take a look at your competition and make sure you can articulate in a concise way how your brand is superior.
- What’s the greatest benefit of my brand? No need to be modest here. Note exactly what the best thing is about your product or service and continuously highlight this to your customers.
- How can I prove that benefit? Once you’ve shone a light on your brand’s advantages, be sure you can deliver. Whether it’s offering a guarantee or using statistics to back up your claim, prove what you say about your brand is true.
Who is your target audience?
One of the most important things in building a brand identity is how to identify your target market’s sentiment and challenges, and how your business can help them overcome them.
It’s no secret that different people want different things. You can’t (usually) target a product to millenial buyer the same way you would target a product to a baby boomer. Learning what your audience wants from a business in your industry is vital to creating a brand people will love.
There are multiple ways in which you can research and learn about your target audience and market. Here are some places to get started:
- Google your product or service category and analyze the direct and indirect competitors that come up.
- Check subreddits that relate to your customers and eavesdrop on their conversations and product recommendations.
- Talk to people who are part of your target market and ask them what brands they buy from in your space.
- Look at the relevant social media accounts or pages your target audience follows and are receptive to.
- Go shopping online or offline and get a feel for how your customers would browse and buy products.
Have your brand philosophy written down
After you have identified your target audience and the value that you can offer them, it’s important to create your mission statement and a statement for your philosophy to solidify your goals and ideas so you can better communicate them to your employees and audiences.
Brand philosophy examples
Here are some of the top examples of companies that clearly envision and communicate their business philosophy internally and to their customers:
Did you know that Nike’s co-founder, Bill Bowerman, started out as a track and field coach? When he was dissatisfied with the available leather and metal running spikes, Bowerman did all he could to design running shoes that would help athletes reduce their time.
But, more than this, it was Bowerman who helped define Nike’s ultimate mission statement. By adding an asterisk to the original idea of bringing “inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world,” Bowerman forwarded the idea that, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
It is this sentiment that has opened Nike up to just about everyone. Its inclusive values add warmth and help humanize a brand that would otherwise exclude an entire chunk of the population.
Nike’s inclusive, all-encompassing brand philosophy champions fitness for everybody – no matter your skin, culture or creed.
As we see today, their product line reinforces their core concept by implementing inclusive marketing designs such as plus-sized mannequins and providing practical features such as soles that support prosthetic legs while running.
Gucci has a very strong brand identity. The perception of high-quality craftsmanship along with innovative and bold design in their products is so strong that it is reflected in the attitudes and values of their customers.
While their products also represent the pinnacle of Italian craftsmanship and are unsurpassed for their quality and attention to detail.
Because of this strong identity, their relationship with their customers is highly personal. When a customer looks in the mirror and sees Gucci the brand is reflected back in themselves. With Gucci, you can see that the customer value aligns with the brand because the stereotypical consumer will feel influential, innovative, and progressive- much like the brand itself.
Zara’s business model is characterized by a high degree of vertical integration. This covers all phases of the fashion process: design, manufacture, logistics, and distribution to its own managed stores. It has a flexible structure and a strong customer focus in all its business areas.
That enables them to shorten turnaround times and achieve greater flexibility, reducing stock to a minimum and diminishing fashion risk to the greatest possible extent.
The key to this model is the ability to adapt the offer to customer desires in the shortest time possible. For Zara, time is the main factor to be considered, above and beyond production costs. This demonstrates their clear policy of valuing time even more than money.
Defining your brand’s philosophy extends way beyond developing just another brand statement. It represents a sense of pride in what the brand is about. Something brand leadership is proud to share but will take as much value from it whether it’s shared or not.
How to develop brand philosophy?
- Identify your brand’s way of doing things
- Research your target audience
- Clearly define and describe your unique selling point
- Write it into a statement
- Create a story between your product and service and your philosophy.
- Be consistent