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  • Writer's pictureKevan Oswald

R.A.T.U.F.A Branding

Contrary to the spelling of its name, the Ratufa isn’t actually a rat, it’s a large tree squirrel. There are four species of the genus Ratufa living in Southeast Asia…and that’s about as exciting as it gets.

In the Branding World, Ratufa is something different. Each letter, R.A.T.U.F.A., stands for one of six fundamental components that I believe are critical to a solid branding strategy: Relationship, Anchor Belief, Trust, Unique Selling Position, Focus, and Authority.

Relationship. Branding is about relationships. The relationship you have with your target audience. Just like a person-to-person relationship, a brand-to-person relationships takes time and patience. And just like a person-to-person relationship, this relationship must be worked on…constantly. Regular communication with your target audience lets them know how much they are valued. This connection is critical in order for them to feel comfortable and have trust in your brand, but also in order for you to understand them, their likes and dislikes, preferences, satisfaction, etc.

Anchor Belief. This is your brand’s “big idea.” The center of you brands universe. Everything revolves around, focuses on, and refers back to your brand’s anchor belief.

Gatorade is one of the more well-known brands in the world. When I mentioned it you instantly associated it with sports, likely football, track, or basketball, along with images of highly skilled and determined athletes drinking colorful Gatorade and the lightning bolt on the side of the bottle. But you have probably never heard of Gatorade’s anchor belief/big idea; “The will to win in a bottle.” Now that you know it, it’s clear how everything the brand does revolves around that single idea. It’s not a very catchy tag line, so it never flashes across the screen at the end of a commercial, but its message is communicated perfectly to the target audience. Once your target audience connects with your anchor belief, it becomes much easier to get them to buy whatever it is you are selling.

Trust. The marketing world has literally shot itself in the foot on trust. The myriad of unsubstantiated claims makes it simply impossible to believe what any company says about its brand. That is until they have earned your trust. Trust is about being authentic and real. Social media has made brands more transparent than ever. Try and pull a fast one and your toast. Try to hide your brand's flaws and they will be found. Want to be seen as more authentic? Don’t try to be something you aren’t, don’t be afraid to admit a weakness, genuinely support a cause your target audience believes in, and most important, deliver on your promises. Nobody‘s perfect. No brand is perfect. No one expects perfection. Everyone appreciates honesty and authenticity. Sync your brands values with the values of your target audience and you will build trust.

Unique Selling Position. There is perhaps no better measure of a brand’s strength than its Unique Selling Position (USP). Closely related to an Anchor Belief, your brands USP is what sets it apart from the competition. It is a claim that is yours alone. No other brand can offer it. It is your Anchor Belief put into action. Your USP communicates to your target audience the primary benefit of choosing your product or service over that of the competition. It positions you in such a way that your target audience sees you as both different and better than the competition.

Focus. Focusing your brand’s message gives it clarity and strength. It also means not going after absolutely everyone who might possibly use your product or service. When you go after everyone, you weaken your connection and relationship with your core target audience (your best customers). They feel ignored. People respond when the message your brand sends resonates with them. Exercising a measure of restraint by not trying to be everything to everyone creates focus. If you need to have two or three different USP’s than maybe you need two or three different brands.

Focus also creates consistency. Consistency builds confidence. Everything about your company right down to the color of the tile on the floor of the janitor’s closet must be a consistent reflection of your brand. When everything is consistent, your brand, and everyone in your company, is focused on its anchor belief.

Authority. Authority is about proof. Repeat customers may not need proof but attracting new ones requires it. Authority is earned. Often slowly. But bit-by-bit it builds through customer recommendations, likes, posts, awards, etc. Once established as an authority, everything a brand does is instantly credible. People pay attention and sales happen.

Brands develop over time, like taking care of a vegetable garden. Brand development is more a process of working hard at nurturing and cultivating a healthy environment for your brand to grow than trying to force quick results. Sure there’s much more to branding than the six core components discussed here, but get these six right, and your brand will develop into something extraordinary.

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