“What is your brand platform?” “What is your online platform?” These are questions that you’re likely to hear these days, particularly on the social web where both businesses and individuals are trying to establish their platforms.
A brand platform is the strategic statement or statements that communicate what your brand stands for. It may include what your company does, how your brand is different from competitors, and what your brand delivers to consumers. By building your online platform, you can establish your niche in the online space where you can communicate your brand messages thereby building your online platform.
Brand platforms are made up of five fundamental elements: your mission, your market position, your value proposition, your tagline or slogan, and your brand story.
1. Your Mission
Your company’s mission statement clearly and concisely states your business and brand’s purpose. That means you need to know what your purpose is before you can define your mission. Your mission statement doesn’t need to be overly specific or quantifiable. It just needs to explain your purpose for existing. Your mission statement should also make reference to your long-term goals and needs to take into consideration your brand’s features and benefits as well as competitors and target audiences.
For example, a mission statement might say: The mission of ABC Inc. is to be the leading online seller of XYZ widgets by offering the best prices, return policies, and shipping processes through the efficient automation of our distribution facilities. We will become known as the go-to online retailer for ABC widgets for U.S. consumers.
2. Your Brand Position
Put together a list of words that describe your brand. This list should include the words that you want your customers to think of when they hear your brand name. Be sure to include words that differentiate your brand from other brands on the market. Next, review your list and find the one word that best defines the position your brand should hold in consumers’ minds and in relation to competitors. That is your brand position, and your goal should be to own that word in the minds of consumers.
Think of your favorite brand. What word pops into your head when you think of that brand? What word do you think of when you hear the brand name Macintosh vs. Windows? I’m betting two very different words come to mind. Both brands are very successful but own different words and positions in the market where they do business. You need to do the same with your brand and your market. Also, when you think of that brand, does their logo stick in your head? When you think of Nike do you see the swoosh – a great example of a great sports company logo. These professional logo designs help set their brand apart from their competition.
3. Your Value Proposition
Value proposition is a popular buzz phrase. However, despite its overuse, it still has, well, value. In simplest terms, your value proposition defines your brand’s competitive advantage. It states why your brand is better than others for a specific reason. In other words, your brand’s value proposition states a meaningful reason why consumers should consider your brand and choose it over any other brand on the market.
What is it about your brand that gives it some form of added-value to consumers over other options? When you know what the unique added value is that your brand delivers, you’ll know your brand’s value proposition. In one or two sentences, put that added value into words and you’ll have your value proposition. For example: ABC clothing products are made with 100% recycled materials, so consumers can be certain the ABC clothes they wear are environmentally-friendly.
4. Your Tagline or Slogan
As your building awareness and recall of your brand, it helps to add an extra reminder of your brand promise. That’s where a tagline (also called a slogan) comes in handy. Even well-established brands use taglines to remind consumers of the brand’s promise. Who could forget the Burger King, Have it your way, slogan that so clearly positioned the number two fast food chain at the time against the market leader, McDonald’s? And the Wendy’s Where’s the beef? tagline used in the 1908s effectively positioned the number three fast food brand against McDonald’s and Burger King by quickly and effectively stating the Wendy’s brand promise and value proposition in a humorous way. Simply put, Wendy’s gave you more beef in your hamburger than the top two fast food chains.
You should include your tagline as part of your logo design, on your marketing materials, in your email signature, on signage, on your website, and everywhere else that you can think of. A great slogan can communicate a lot in just a few words.
5. Your Brand Story
People love stories, and your brand history can give consumers and media great insight into your brand promise. Stories make your business seem more human. Your brand story can demonstrate how your brand promise and value proposition evolved, and it can include real examples of how you’ve lived up to that brand promise over time.
Most importantly, you need to understand that consumers create brands, not companies through their brand experiences and emotions. Develop your brand platform using the five elements described above. Make sure your brand platform effectively connects with consumers and ties to their emotions, so they feel secure with your brand and grow to depend on it. That dependence and trust leads to brand loyalty, which is the ultimate sign of branding success.