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Brand Building 101: Five Easy Steps to Build a Strong Brand

May 28, 2014

What’s in a brand? Not as poetic as Shakespeare’s famous line for Juliet, but still a valid question. Perhaps a better question to begin with is: what is not a brand? Recently, Marilyn led a CEO roundtable discussion on branding for her MMAC COSBE  group and began with this thought provoking question. 


Marilyn pointed out a brand is not a tagline, a logo, a product or service, nor is its definition based upon how the company defines it. Rather, a brand is based around the perception of the company’s customers. It’s how they see your organization, what they expect from you and what you deliver. Think of your brand as a person? What is this person like? What words describe this person? What are the attributes of this person? Is this the person you want to be?


Remember, perception is reality. How your company is perceived revolves around the customer experience.  Here are five steps toward building a better, stronger brand:


1. Identify your “reasons-to-believe”. If a brand is a promise, then it must be a promise your customers believe in. Establishing “reasons-to-believe” adds substance to the promise and defines specific expectations for your customers. It’s the “why” of your business: why do you do what you do? What do your customers believe about your brand and what do they expect from you?


2. Identify customer touchpoints. Every step in the business process where customers come in contact with your brand is a touchpoint. These interactions are the largest factors in shaping how customers think about your brand. Walk through your process – every aspect of your business from the customer’s first contact to service delivery, your website, billing and problem-solving. Are you meeting customer expectations at every touchpoint? Does each touchpoint reinforce your brand?


3. Determine the most influential touchpoints. All touchpoints are not created equal. Determine the primary touchpoints that most affect the overall customer experience and address these first. If you produce ice cream, the taste is more important than the packaging, but both are touchpoints.


4. Design the optimal experience. You’ve already identified your “reasons-to-believe” in step one. And in steps two and three, you’ve identified general and influential touchpoints. Now combine this knowledge to make sure that each reason-to-believe is expressed at each key touchpoint to reinforce what customers believe about your company.
5. Align the organization to consistently deliver the optimal experience. Once you’ve identified the optimal experience for your customers, look internally for the resources to make it happen. Identify and align the people, processes and tools that drive each key touchpoint. If you identify activities that aren’t in alignment with your ideal customer experience, determine how to address them.


Branding is a never-ending process. By actively monitoring perceptions and utilizing the five steps above to optimize the experience, you can build a successful brand that delivers on your brand promise.