Updated: Jun 21
Building a brand is about gaining and retaining trust and that takes time. To become known as something or known for something over the long term means you have to be prepared to go the long term. It takes time.
So these 3 essential ingredients for brand building take one common thread into consideration; brand building is about going the distance.
According to Oxford languages via google Patience is about being able to accept and tolerate delay and doing that without getting upset.
I know we live in a time where it seems like brands can blow up on social media getting recognition, popularity, views, likes, because of a few posts and although that's a real phenomenon, being a phenomenon also means it’s pretty rare.
And the thing is that popularity doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with trust; not the kind of trust that will prompt people to buy from you repeatedly anyway.
A 2014 article by entrepreneur magazine cited a study done across 6 continents by customer engagement company then called SDL. The study found that it takes 2 years for customers to view a brand as quote “one they could rely on.”
It takes months for a new website on the new domain to start getting good traffic; it takes time to master content that will fit both your audience and your brand; it takes time to master your own brand voice or your style of communicating.
It all takes time and therefore an essential ingredient in brand building is to have the patience to work through that time and accept the inevitable delays in seeing the results you want to see. In fact, you should try to realistically estimate those delays and work them into your planning to manage your own expectations and those of your team or your managers.
If you have to accept delays without losing your cool, clearly you need another ingredient to help you get over the obstacles that will surely test your cool. That ingredient is persistence.
While by human nature it can be hard to be different, that’s an obstacle that has to be overcome by a brand day in and day out. Brand building is all about being different. It’s about being highly differentiated from competitors as a means to success.
Brand builders have to overcome the desire to be like any other player in the market no matter how dominant they are. This requires persistence.
A brand that is failing in the battle for persistence
One example of a brand failing the battle in persistence for strong differentiation in 2022, is Instagram (my opinion). In a June 2021 post, Head of Instagram Alex Mosseri explained how the platform would no longer be based on photo sharing but would be embracing the entertainment needs of its users and concentrating on video, creators, messaging and shopping.
The introduction of its reels videos to compete with Tik Toks and the subsequent changes to its algorithms to deprioritise photo posts left a lot of users alienated scrambling to adapt to the changes and overwhelmed as they've tried to keep up with the numerous ways of sharing on the platform.
Instagram has certainly taken a gambol on the short-term hoping for long-term gains but is this shift away from its roots beneficial? Perhaps only time will tell but the fact that so many of the Reels videos being posted on Instagram are actually repurposed Tik Tok videos gives and indication that things aren't going so well.
In fact in one of its most recent announcements Instagram talks about prioritising original video (i.e. native to the platform) by changes to the infamous algorithm, more than likely an answer to those repurposed Tik Toks.
Rather than persisting and finding a highly differentiated path Instagram (my opinion) has become a very poor copycat of a disruptive brand. In doing so it's left users who'd trusted platform since the early days out in the cold.
What do you think of someone who acts one way around certain people and another way around others, or who makes decisions, it seems, based on no real common line of thought?
Those inconsistencies usually give us the impression that they’re untrustworthy or unreliable. If we extend that inconsistent behaviour to a brand, this is obviously damaging because we're aiming to build trust, not diminish it. We want to help people be sure of who our brand is and what it does. And consistency helps them be certain.
So where is consistency needed?
In brand actions - if a brand fails to adhere to the values it has set for itself across all the touchpoints where customers engage with it; through products, media, employees for example it will not go unnoticed. Especially in this age consumers are quick to research and "call out" brands on inconsistent behaviours and not "walking the talk".
In the way a brand looks, sounds and feels - you want your brand to be consistently recognisable by customers and potential customers. Brand "look" is where visual elements like logos and specific colour palettes come in. How a brand sounds is reflected in a style of communicating that is developed for the brand, also called its brand voice. How the brand feels is really about how visual and sound and tactile elements come together to reflect a persona for the brand. This is not only about how the brand's personality but also about how it is intended to make people feel.
How is consistency achieved?
Brand actions are governed by a brand's values which are set out in its brand strategy. These are the guidelines for how a brand will conduct itself.
Brand look, sound and feel are also governed by guidelines. These may be called brand standards, a brand bible or simply brand guidelines and are usually laid out. in a corporate document. It sets out:
how the brand's visual elements are to appear in various communications materials from printed packaging and advertising to all digital materials;
what the brand voice and personality and personality is; sometimes even a glossary of preferred terms or words to be used by the brand in written and spoken communications.
Ultimate task of a brand builder
In summary, the ultimate task of a brand builder is to keep the long-game in the forefront of his/her mind and bring that thinking to the table even when short-term decisions are to be made. It's a brand builder's job to think about the long-term impact of short-term actions and exercise patience, persistence and consistency.