How To Build A Brand Consumers Will Love

October 21st, 2019 | ACA Team, Association of Canadian Advertisers

beloved brands

What do brands like Ferrari, Apple and Starbucks have in common? Consumers don’t just love their products—they love their brands.

At a recent ACA webinar, Graham Robertson, author of Beloved Brands, explored the concept of building a brand idea and how it helps brands truly connect with consumers.

Looking at the difference between a brand and a product, Roberston said a brand is very emotional, whereas a product is functional. And in cases like Starbucks, “we start to see that a brand becomes a favourite part of a life ritual.”

Secondly, a brand is experienced by consumers, while a product is consumed. For example, “Ferrari fans are known to go to every auto race and paint themselves red and fly [Ferrari] flags, even though they’ll probably never be able to afford a Ferrari. But that is one of the things that makes that brand so loved.”

The major common element among beloved brands is they have a brand idea, said Robertson. A brand idea provides a clear purpose and set of values, and everything across the organization is aligned under that idea.

How To Create A Brand Idea

The first step in developing a brand idea is to understand your consumer. Marketers can answer a series of questions to create a consumer target profile. Among the questions are: What is the description of the consumer target? What are the consumer’s main needs? What does the consumer think now? What do we want consumers to see, think, do, feel or whisper to their friends?

After you know your consumer, you move into developing a brand positioning statement. “What we want to find is that sweet spot between what consumers want and what your brand does best,” said Robertson. The statement should combine the work of the consumer target profile, main benefits, and the emotional or functional aspects of the brand.

Next, you can build the brand idea, which combines the inner and outer elements of the brand. The inner part is the “brand soul,” including products and services and cultural inspiration. The outer part is “brand reputation” and includes consumer reputation and influencer reputation. Bridging the two is “brand role.”

To illustrate how to complete these five areas and come up with a brand idea, Robertson used the fictional example of Gray’s Cookies:

Products and services: A delicious, low-carb cookie that helps control hunger.
Cultural inspiration: Healthy doesn’t have to taste bad. We will never settle for okay.
Consumer reputation: The fresh face in the cookie aisle, known equally for health and great taste.
Influencer reputation: Dieticians see Gray’s as a healthy snack for a low-carb diet.
Brand role: Gray’s is the helping hand that allows people to control their cravings and maintain their weight.

Out of these five areas comes the overall brand idea: “The best-tasting, yet guilt-free pleasure so you can stay in control of your weight.”

“The brand idea must be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and ownable,” said Robertson.

It should also be explained in seven seconds, he added. “That’s the given that people have time to connect with, whether they’re in a grocery store, online, or driving down the street.” If you don’t connect quickly, consumers will move on.

Ultimately, the role of the brand idea is to inspire everyone who works on the brand and organize everything that happens on the brand—both internally and externally.

“[The brand idea] controls brand story, product innovation, purchase moment, consumer experience, organizational culture, business results, strategic plan and brand positioning,” said Robertson. “Obviously, marketing is known as the external part of this, with logos, packaging, sales and marketing communications, but the internal part [such as values and culture] is just as important nowadays.”


Apple: We make technology so simple, that everyone can be part of the future.
Intel: When you find us inside your computer, you can trust us to make your computer move faster.
Starbucks: A personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home.
Rolex: A symbol of prestige, made with scrupulous attention to detail to enable perfect precision.