The benefits of having a strong brand are tremendous. Strong brands charge premium pricing; they thrive during economic downturns; they attract great employees, partners and customers; and they can extend into new business areas with ease.
In addition to being able to boast these enviable benefits, strong brands have something else in common. They all exhibit the “three Cs” of branding.
The three Cs are: clarity, consistency, and constancy. Does your brand pass the Three C Test?
Strong brands are clear about what they are and what they are not. They understand their unique promise of value. And this promise of value sets them apart from their competitors.
It differentiates them and allows them to attract and build loyalty among a desirable set of consumers. Volvo, for example, is clear about their commitment to safety and security. They are not about speedy sports cars, or about small economy cars, or about luxury cars.
They build cars for families. Cars that are safe. And they clearly focus their communication activities on this differentiation.
Nordstrom's clarity is around unmatched customer service. And it is clear from the moment you step into the store. Nordstrom has been able to separate itself from other retailers through this unwavering commitment to customer service and satisfaction. There are several retailers who will sell you a black Armani suit; but only Nordstrom will turn it into an experience you will talk about with friends and colleagues.
This clarity guides Nordstrom as they build on their current business. When they developed their on-line store, they did so in a way to ensure that customers would experience the same level of service they have come to expect from the Nordstrom brand.
In addition to being clear about who they are, strong brands are also consistent. They are always what they say they are.
For Volvo, they are always about safety. They don't change their focus from model to model. When new editions come out each year, they are safe too. And Volvo consistently communicates that.
Or look at Madonna. Madonna is the chameleon brand of entertainment. She reinvents herself with each CD that she produces. She didn't change for her first five CDs and then stay the same for the next two. She consistently changes.
And the one thing we can be sure of with regard to her upcoming CD is that it will be nothing like any of the others she has done before. Madonna's ability to change consistently throughout her career separates her from other entertainers, thereby strengthening her brand.
It is not enough to be clear and consistent if you are not always visible to your target audience. Strong brands are constant; they are always there for their customers and prospects. They don't go into hiding.
For Coke, the world is the target market. That is why you can't make it through a day without being exposed to their bright red color or familiar script logo. Vending machines, people carrying a coke as they walk down the street, restaurant menus, product placement in TV shows and movies, billboards and print and TV advertisements all scream COKE.
Coke is a constant in our lives. And Coke is the world's strongest brand.
Chances are, your brand's target market is a lot smaller than Coke's. And that is good news, making it easier (and a lot less expensive) for you to remain constantly connected to your target audience.
In building and nurturing a strong brand, you have a lot more to think about than these three C's. But no brand is truly a strong brand if it doesn't pass the Three C Test.
How does your brand do?
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