Charlotte Nichols, Managing Director, Harvey & Hugo PR
Harvey & Hugo


The eight steps to creating a desirable brand

One of the key reasons many people approach a public relations agency is to develop and build their brand.

But what is a brand? And how can you make sure you create a desirable one?

Let’s start with what it’s not. American author Mary Nuemeier summed it up best when she said: “A brand is not a logo. A brand is not an identity. A brand is not a product. A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organisation.”

In short, a brand is how your audience perceives you, which all comes down to the most powerful computer in the world – the brain.

Absolutely everything you know is contained in that 30lb lump of grey matter between your ears. Information received by your brain is transferred on neurons; between each neuron are synapses – of which there are more than there are stars in 1,500 milky way galaxies.

So your brain has a lot going on in there, processing around 34 gigabytes of data a day – enough to overload a laptop in a week.

When you show it a brand, it sends the information off to the amygdala, which is responsible for our emotions and feelings, so any past experiences will pop up.

From there, it travels over to the hippocampus, where it’s stored in our long-term memory, ready to be retrieved at a later date – or not.

That’s why, when we see things, we don’t simply see them at face value; we have all sorts of emotions and feelings attached to it – a phenomenon known as gestalt.

Therefore, to create a truly memorable and loveable brand – which is our remit at Harvey & Hugo – you need to build these positive associations and make people remember you.

How to do it

It’s not an overnight process – the world’s most popular brand, Apple, has been more than 40 years in the making – but there are eight key steps when it comes to creating a truly desirable brand.

Purpose and ambition

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

This quote by Simon Sinek is probably the best explanation of why you need to communicate your vision and values, as well as what you’re doing or selling.

Before you start to build your brand, make sure you’re clear on your what, how and why. People buy your purpose as it resonates with them, giving them an emotional connection and building brand loyalty.

It’s also a good idea to add your ambition in there too, and how you’ll get there. It’s not enough to say what you’re going to do, customers these days want to know how, so break it down for them, and make sure to communicate that internally and externally.

Be visible and distinctive

People need to know about you, which is why you need a strong PR and marketing strategy in place, to create desire for the brand.

You also need to make it stand out from the crowd, so think about how can you make your brand different, how can you interrupt the market and capture the imagination of your audience.

A good way is to ask an open question as part of your brand, such as Nike’s Just Do It. The ambiguity of the statement – just do what? – means it can mean anything to everyone, nobody is excluded.

Be clear and concise

When we were cavemen, we were never sure where our next meal was coming from, and so the brain needed to conserve energy by not doing unnecessary thinking.

That may not be the case now, but in some small part, our brains think it is, and we don’t want to have to think more than necessary.

To build a strong brand, you need clear messaging for your audience, spelling out how you can solve their problems. After all, you can’t generate desire for something if people don’t really understand it, and research has shown that people don’t buy the cheapest, they buy what they understand.

Have a key person of influence

As humans we relate to other humans, so we need a person to look to – although some are more relatable than others.

Don’t let your key person hide behind the business, make them a clear figurehead – you’re thinking Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs here.

It’s great if they’ve written a book, but that’s a big ask, so maybe start with a blog, or a thought leadership piece. It’s all about creating a trail of media-based breadcrumbs leading back to the brand.

Listen and empathise

We live in a really anxious world, and the past 18 months have exacerbated that, so this is really important.

Our brains are bombarded, and feel close to overload most days. Listen to your customers, understand their problems, and let them shape the business.

Too often, marketing companies sell to external problems that people have but customers buy solutions to their internal issues they may have.

The DIY chain Wickes recently tapped into this with their Housebarrassment campaign, focusing on their customers’ issues rather than the product the company is trying to sell.

Community and constituents

The concept of building a community is nothing new in social media – it has a nicer ring to it than followers – but this brings us back to our original point.

Your customers and the feelings they have are your brand, so it’s important to create a sense of belonging, to make them feel proud that they’re part of it.

You also need constituents, who are actively involved in your brand, to make people feel like they matter, let them have their say and ask questions.

Hyundai is a great example. In the last recession, it launched its Hyundai Assurance program, allowing customers to return a car if they lost their job. Not only does this make clients feel valued, it also creates great brand loyalty.

Be consistent and coherent

Consistency is really underrated, particularly in this world of instant gratification and fast results.

But think of a tap dripping in an empty bath; each drop seems insignificant, but the regularity of it soon fills a tub.

People often don’t have the patience these days, so it’s all about managing expectation; building a brand, especially from scratch, can take up to 36 months, so it’s definitely a slow burn.

However, it also needs to be coherent; you can use different messages across different platforms, but the key values must remain the same.

Use taglines and triggers

When information enters into the long-term memory, it is stored in engrams, in a mental filing system where associations are made between things that relate to each other.

That’s why taglines like have a break, have a KitKat are so important, as the phrasing fits into people’s everyday lives, acting as a constant reminder of that brand.

So if you can, try to link your tagline to every part of your audience’s lives, so when they think of it, they also think of your brand.

Visual triggers are also important, as these are key prompts for our brains, which focus more on images and feelings. For example, Marlboro cigarettes were originally targeted at women; the cowboy image – masculine, moody, independent – was developed to attract men. It worked, all through the use of simple imagery and colour.

The important thing to remember is that building a desirable brand is an art, and it takes time, effort and careful planning.

If you would like to put Charlotte’s eight steps into action, request our desirable brand framework tool by emailing

If you’d like to talk to us about getting people talking about your business, throw us a bone on 01325 486666 or email

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Harvey & Hugo .

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