There are certain brands that are ingrained in every consumer’s mind: Coke, Colgate, Apple, Toyota, Pampers, etc. Every one of these brands was carefully designed with one thing in mind: to build a brand that lasts.

Smaller, non-public companies can learn a lot from the branding techniques of larger corporations. How do you build a brand that really lasts? Follow these guidelines.

=> Rule #1 – The Brand Is in the Consumer’s Mind

A lot of people think that the brand is in your logo, your slogan or your marketing materials. Not so. Your brand, your real brand, is in the mind of your consumers.

One great example is Kia, the car manufacturer. For most people, Kia in their minds is “the cheap, not very good car.” It doesn’t matter that Kia runs thousands of commercials every year “branding” their cars as adventurous, reliable, etc. Their real brand is still that – the cheap, probably not very good car.

The whole point of branding is to deliberately construct the associations your customers have when they think of you and your company.

=> Rule #2 – Be Known for One Thing

Don’t try to be a generic brand. Don’t try to be number one in everything.

Let’s use the auto industry as an example again. The auto industry is notorious for being extremely difficult to get into. In fact, it would cost so much money at such a high risk to try and build a strong enough new brand to generate sales in the auto industry that just about nobody does it. That’s why you hear the same five or six brands running commercials year after year.

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When Tesla Motors came along, they didn’t try and build a number one car. They didn’t try to compete with any of the large, more generic brands. Instead, they set out to do one thing: to create the best luxury or sports 100% electric car.

Shortly after they launched, every Tesla dealership was backlogged with orders.

There are many examples of this. For example, “Miller Light” was a number one brand when they didn’t try and be a generic beer, just the number one light beer. The list goes on and on.

=> Rule #3 – Be Consistent with Your Brand

A brand that changes every year, or even every few years, is bound for obscurity. A brand whose logo conflicts with its message, or a brand whose color is inconsistent with the brand’s emotions, is also bound for obscurity.

Your brand needs to be consistent throughout every part of your business. The logo, the typography, the tagline, the “feel” of the commercials, the corporate culture and so on, should all be streamlined to one coherent message.

Coca Cola is a great example of this. Their brand is that no matter where you are, it’s cool and fun to drink Coke.

McDonald’s is a poor example of this. They’ve tried to position themselves as healthy by adding salads and running commercials, but everyone knows they’re not. They try to position themselves as the place to take the family, but many parents now tell their kids not to eat at McDonald’s. McDonald’s has a confused brand, which has hurt their sales.

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To create a brand that lasts, make sure you know what your message is. Make sure that one message is clear and concise. Then make sure all your advertising materials and everything else about your company matches up to that branding message.