Carve out a niche for your brand - David Reid

Lodging a positive emotional association in the minds of potential customers is vital, says Reid. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Lodging a positive emotional association in the minds of potential customers is vital, says Reid. Picture: Stewart Attwood
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As a brand and marketing consultant, I spend a great deal of time building relationships, cultivating leads and listening to the challenges that owners and leaders face around growing their businesses. Indeed, it would be fair to say that if the Edinburgh Sheraton did coffee miles, I’d have enough to go to Colombia and back several times a year, such is the amount of networking I seem to conduct there.

Exploratory meetings are invaluable to start the process of getting under the skin of an organisation and discover the areas in which a brand could be punching harder and communicating its authentic story more effectively.

The benefits of establishing a compelling brand are known and understood. Standing out and being able to charge a premium might be the most obvious, but there are others such as providing internal focus and external consistency, generating trust while lowering risk, instilling loyalty and ultimately generating enduring value through lifetime client retention.

Competitive advantage

Building a brand can be a time consuming and complex undertaking, but it is one worth striving to attain. Gaining a competitive advantage within any marketplace means knowing exactly who and what you are as a brand, what sets you apart, where you want to take your business and why your target audience should care. Lodging a positive emotional association within the minds of potential customers is paramount to achieving sustainable success, because to quote the old adage: “A product may be made in a factory, but a brand is made in the mind.”

My career in advertising and brand marketing started more than three decades ago at the fledgling Leith Agency, and these facts are as true today as they were then. Probably more so, given the proliferation of media channels that ensures brand communications remain constantly switched on.

Working on behalf of local and international businesses with turnovers ranging from a few hundred thousand pounds to approaching a billion, I’ve run countless immersive brand audits and discovery workshops that drill into the DNA of an organisation and help identify brand propositions that elevate awareness and drive engagement. The marketing strategies and creative nuggets that come out of this rigorous activity, not only bring about stand-out in the marketplace, they continually been proven to deliver measurable impact to the bottom line.

Fostering an emotional connection

Occasionally inspiration comes easily. When my own former agency 1576 won the Glenmorangie account just before the millennium, we were tasked with rebooting a successful, but somewhat stale brand. We were less than fifteen minutes into a four-day fact finding tour at the Tain distillery when I asked the question: “What does Glenmorangie actually mean?” On hearing it translated from the Gaelic as “Glen of Tranquillity,” my colleague and I grinned at one another, knowing that delivering a memorable creative positioning strategy was not going to be the hardest gig we’d ever undertaken. And so it proved as our next decade of work helped catapult and then cement Glenmorangie as the country’s best selling malt.

Fundamentally, marketing has one single purpose - bringing together a buyer and a seller and transforming interested prospects into paying customers. People are far more likely to become paying customers if they feel a strong emotional connection to a brand.

Today my clients come from a multitude of sectors: food and drink, fintech, professional services and tourism and hospitality to name a few. Whatever their specialism, they all have one thing in common - the courage to not to be merely a carbon copy of someone else and a belief in the words popularly attributed to Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” So, if elevating the stature of your brand sounds interesting, why don’t we have a coffee? I hear the Sheraton is good.

- David Reid, founder of Because Brands Matter