This, like many famous sayings, this is a slight misquote, Kevin Costner actually said “if you build it, he will come”, referring to the famous baseball legend “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. However, the sentiment remains the same and is a good metaphor for the approach businesses should take when creating a brand.

First need to identify who your ideal customer would be, and then build the brand so that those customers can identify with it. The ultimate goal, if I can mix my sporting metaphors, is for your customers to become advocates of your brand, a fiercely loyal tribe, who will recommend your brand to others and buy anything your brand produces.

Customers loyal to the brand buy more products and services for more money. Studies have shown that 50% of customers are willing to pay up to a 25% premium before switching brands, and that the most loyal 10% of customers can account for 50% of revenue.

So when you come to build your brand, make sure you are creating a space that your customers will want to come to.

As a business there’s a lot you can do to create, and develop your brand, but ultimately the brand will live in the minds of your customers, as the well-known branding expert Marty Neumeier put it “It’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is”.

You might think that puts you in a tricky position, but there is a lot you can do to influence the perception your customers have of your brand. Your brand is your reputation, and it’s based on everything that your business does, every touch point you have with your customer, and it’s far more than just a logo.

Creating a brand that delights and improves your audience’s lives, you can build a strong and loyal customer base who will buy more, pay more, and ultimately recommend you to others because they believe in and trust your brand.

So remember, you create the customers, but the customers build the brand.

Spock often criticised Kirk for being “highly illogical”, but Kirk knew logic alone wouldn’t beat the Klingons. When we think in purely logical ways we don’t take into account human (or Klingon) psychology which doesn’t work in a purely logical way.

Say for example you want to launch a new product in the carbonated drinks market to rival Coca Cola, the logical approach would be to produce a fizzy drink that tastes better, is cheaper and comes in a bigger can. The problem is no one has managed to do this successfully. There is however one drink that does rival Coke, it’s more expensive, it comes in a small can and tastes fairly unpleasant: Red Bull. A drink so successful you can run an F1 team on the back of it. There are a number of possible reasons why it is so successful, but the small size, unpleasant taste and requirement to be over 16 to purchase it, gives a strong medicinal vibe, if something is expensive, tastes nasty and is exclusive it must be doing you good!

Logic says when it comes to transport quicker is better. But when London Underground installed the electric signs telling passenger how long till the next train arrives they discovered people where happy with longer waits as long as they knew how long the wait was. This same principal applies to Uber, people are happy waiting longer for their Uber when they can see on the app that it is actually on its way.

So when you are looking at your next marketing idea, try being illogical like Kirk, because unlike science, in marketing the opposite of a good idea could just be an even better one!

Brand purpose has become a bit of a buzz term recently, but exactly does it mean, and are importantly does your business need one?

Brand purpose is often defined as the reason your business exists beyond making money. All businesses need to make a profit to exist, but their is more to life than money so we are told. And that is OK, we want to think we are making a difference in the world, the problem is that this has been elevated by many to unrealistic and unachievable heights.

Take as an example, Starbucks, whose mission is ” To inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time”. As worthy an ambition as this might be nobody is really going to believe (or care) that a cup of coffee can do this. Far better for example to aim to “make the best cup of coffee possible to give our customers a great start to the day” This is a purpose that customers can believe in and is more relevant to a coffee selling business.

There are exceptions where more lofty ideals do work, but this is because these ideals have been built into the brand from the very start. Patagonia is a good example where sustainability, reuse an environmental issues were always part of the brand, therefore their mission statement “We’re In Business To Save Our Home Planet” has credibility. However, this is the exception rather than the rule.

So when you think about the purpose of your business, it’s OK to say we make a great product or deliver a great service that makes some small difference in our customers lives, they will thank you for it, won’t criticise you because you aren’t changing the whole world.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the above expression before. Of course, from a physics perspective, it’s rubbish. Time always passes at the same rate (OK, maybe not, I’m no scientist, but you get my general point). But it is true, in perhaps, from a business point of view, a more important sense, our perception of it. We’ve all been to a fantastic party or event and suddenly thought, Oh my goodness, is that the time! What we are talking about here is human psychology and how it influences our behaviour. The undisputed master in this area is Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of the advertising agency Ogilvy, and his book Alchemy on the subject (from which I stole some examples below) is a highly recommended read.

One of the examples he gives is the HS2 rail link and how he could solve the problem for a fraction of the cost by changing the perception of the problem. From the economist’s point of view, the faster the better. Every minute off the journey time is an improvement. But what if you made that journey time a positive and not a negative? Install good wifi, proper seating and tables for working at, and a great food and drink service. The journey then becomes an opportunity to get work done away from the distractions of the office, something to look forward to. So, without having to change any infrastructure, you’ve solved the problem by changing the perception of it.

There are many examples of brands that have turned negatives into positives. Think of Guinness – good things come to those who wait (it’s worth waiting for), Stella Artois – reassuringly expensive (there is a reason it costs more), KFC – finger licking good (we know it’s messy but it tastes great).

When you come to think about your own brand, consider what the customer’s perception of you is and what are some ways you can improve that perception with a bit of psychology. If you send out goods, could you include a little something extra they didn’t expect? If you did, you might stick in their mind the next time they come to order. If you have customers visiting you, what could you do to improve the environment? In restaurants, for example, if there is an unpleasant odour in the air, no amount of Michelin Star cooking will make the meal enjoyable, so think about burning some pleasant-smelling candles.

So remember when looking at ways to improve your customer’s experience a liitle of psychology can go a long way.

When you first launch your brand the temptation is to take a mass marketing approach, trying to appeal to everyone, after all you want to reach the largest possible audience with your new brand. But the danger is by trying to appeal to everyone, you actually appeal to no one. By selling to a niche you can stand out from your competitors and become an authority in your chosen area, which will ultimately attract a bigger audience.

Benefits of a niche approach
By targeting a specific sector of customers you can focus all your resources there, attracting customers who have a real need for your product, and if it solves their problem they will become loyal advocates for you in the future. All businesses started small, even the well known global brands of today. By starting with this small group you will encourage positive reviews and word of mouth which can carry you into larger and more profitable markets.

Finding your niche market
So how do you go about identifying your particular niche? Firstly identify what particular need or problem your business solves, how can you provide value to customers? Research your competition, what are others doing in the market, is a particular need being unmet or just not serviced well, that presents a gap you could fill? Try interviewing customers of competitors, what are they unhappy with, which of their needs are not met.

Is it profitable
Before going all out on your niche you need to assess if it can provide the profit you need. Some things to consider in determining this are: demographics – are customers in your niche market likely to have the income necessary to buy from you?; competition – are many other companies selling something similar – this could dilute your profits; price point – can you price your product in the market at a level to gives you the profit you need?

Test first
Before fully launching some simple testing will give you feedback to know if your onto a winner or not. Create a landing page for the new product or service and offer free trails or samples. This will let you know if interest is there before fully committing. If the results are disappointing it’s not necessarily back to square one, it maybe a case of tweaking some key areas. Do further research try to identify weak points in your offering and try again.

So when you come to market your product or service remember to know your niche.

Finding a gap in the marketplace is one of the most important things a brand can do to establish itself and standout from the competition, because you definitely won’t standout if you’re just doing the same as everyone else. This is sometimes known as the brand’s differentiation or USP. These terms however can cause confusion, as many people think they need to find some sort of revolutionary new idea that transforms the marketplace. However those kind of ideas are few and far between and are mostly found in technology driven areas, if you have one, then great. But really you only need to find some small area or approach that your competition are not doing well and become known for that. For example, say you run a coffee shop and you identified that most of your customers were busy commuters, what about if they could text their order ahead and it was waiting for them when they arrived? It doesn’t even have to be something new, just something you do better than anyone else. What could you do to make your customer’s lives easier and better. Talking to your existing customers can uncover a wealth of useful information, what are their pain points, how can you address them to make their lives better?

Try to think laterally, could you take an idea from a different market sector and be the first to apply it in your sector? Uber transformed the taxi world, in part by using technology that allows you to track where your taxi is at anytime and how long it will be, could you do this for a completely different sector, what about if you were able to track your plumber and knew when he was on his way to you?

So when you come look at your product or service, remember the gaps in the market are there, you just have to find them.

It will not come as any great revelation say that no business exists in a vacuum, they all compete in complicated and ever changing marketplaces. That’s why we recommend beginning every new branding project with a Discovery Session designed to uncover your business’s marketplace and its position in it.

Only by having an understanding of the landscape your business operates in can we begin to formulate a plan or strategy for your brand and define the position it wants to occupy in that landscape.

The Discovery Session and is designed to uncover some basic values and motivations of the business, who the customers are and who the competition is. Only when we have this information we can begin creating the strategy for the brand.

So remember, when you come to create your new brand, to get where to want to, you first have to know where you’re starting from.

The words logo and brand are often used interchangeably, so it’s no surprise there is a lot of confusion around the subject. But your logo is just one piece in the whole picture of your brand. Your brand exists in every aspect of your business from customer service to packaging to marketing to websites and it all needs to be in alignment to create an effective brand presence.

Don’t get me wrong your logo is still an important branding element, but think of it more as a visual shortcut to your whole brand rather than the brand itself. When you see the Apple logo for instance, sure it’s a memorable icon but what it’s really doing is acting as a visual trigger in your mind for all the qualities and emotions that you associate with the Apple brand; the sleekly designed iPhones and iMacs, the rebellious ‘Think Differently’ attitude, the beautiful advertising imagery. It’s not possible to put all this into one logo and indeed it’s not desirable as the best logos are usually the simplest ones.

So when you are next looking to create an new brand or rebrand an existing one first take a step back and consider the whole picture that you are looking to create before creating the individual pieces of that picture.

Establishing a clear position in the mind of your audience is key to a successful brand. Your position clarifies what you do differently, better than others and more importantly why they should choose you instead of your competition.

There are many different approaches you can take to establish your brand position, such as price based, disruption based, convenience based, quality based to name a few. But whatever position you identify as the key to your brand it will form the basis for all your communication going forward.

Two real life examples of positioning would be Tesla who position themselves as luxury brand not focusing on price and Airbnb who position themselves as an authentic experience, offering total immersion in the local way of life.

When it comes to you own positioning don’t think you need to necessarily come up with some revolutionary new idea like Airbnb, you just need to identify the one thing that you do better than your competition: are you faster; more efficient; better designed; more convenient? And make that the thread that runs through all your branding communication.

So when you next think about your brand make sure you have the right position in mind.