The benefits of having a strong brand are tremendous. Strong brands charge premium pricing; they thrive during economic downturns; they attract valuable employees, business partners, and customers; and they can extend into new business areas with ease. Every company, product, city, or even person can reap these benefits if they focus on building and maintaining their brands.

In a previous MarketingProfs article, I wrote about the "Three Cs of Branding." It was by far the most popular of all the articles I have written for the site—nearly 300,000 people have read it. The three Cs that I referenced in that article are among the most important and are also among the most challenging to implement; but there are some other Cs that are critical to branding as well.

When I deliver my workshop "You Can't Spell Brand without the Letter C," I actually cover the 10 Cs of successful branding. In building and nurturing a strong brand, you have a lot more to think about than these 10 Cs; but no brand is truly a strong brand if it doesn't pass the Ten C Test. So whether you're managing your company's brand or building your own personal brand, think about these 10 Cs:

1. Competent

All brands begin with competence. Although a rational brand attribute, it is the table stakes that gets you into the game. You aren't going to get too far with branding if your product or service cannot fulfill its promise. Just as people who cannot hold a note don't make it past the first round on Pop Idol, you can't build a brand around ineptitude.

When IKEA first launched in Sweden, its furniture was well designed, but of poor quality. It did not have a solid brand. Then, after years of refinements, it started to produce much-higher quality products, still at affordable prices. Now, their kitchens are considered to be of very high quality while remaining inexpensive and fashionable.

Competence is the first C. If you don't have a solid product or service, you are wasting your efforts branding it.

2. Credible

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image of William Arruda

William Arruda is a personal branding pioneer, the founder and CEO of Reach Personal Branding, and the author of Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives.

Twitter: @williamarruda

LinkedIn: William Arruda