May 31st 2019

Building a brand with PR

“Today brands are built with publicity and maintained with advertising. The cart is now driving the horse.”

I really like this quote. It’s from ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding’ by Al and Laura Ries, in case you’re interested in reading more.

In the past, advertising was seen as the most important pillar when building a brand, and with good reason. I need only say three words: ‘I’m lovin’ it’, and you’ll know instantly which famous name I’m talking about. But while advertising still has an important role to play, times and consumers have changed. We want to buy from businesses that have a deeper presence than just a slogan, and that actually stand for something.

PR shouldn’t be seen as secondary to advertising when building a brand. Building a brand is about going beyond the basic architecture of your company; the name, logos, strapline etc., and instead about providing insight, meaning and understanding to what you’re about. Unlike advertising, PR by its very nature is more considered, and can give a business that depth and personality. Audiences and consumers are demanding authenticity, and PR is the most effective way of communicating this, through strong narratives and consistent, engaging storytelling.

But, what do you do if you don’t have a brand in the first place?

First of all, don’t panic – we can help with that – and it’s actually quite simple. All good news stories take care of the who, what and whys early on (we know about that too by the way), but so do all good brands. Internally, businesses should be asking themselves basic questions:

  • What do you do?
  • Who for?
  • What makes you unique?
  • How do you substantiate your uniqueness?
  • How does your brand do it?
  • Why does your brand do it?

These can be difficult for some businesses to answer, particularly when those inside the walls have become entrenched in the organisation. As such, getting some outside perspective is often the most useful first step.

Once you’ve got all of that sorted, make sure it’s communicated to the whole team. Not only is having a clear picture of who you are as a brand great for facing out to the world, it’s also a hugely important way of motivating your staff and recruiting new talent. People want to know and believe in who they work for and not feel like a cog in a giant machine – so don’t underestimate the importance of branding for your internal teams.

Now, you can read all sorts of academic studies about ‘brand heuristics’ that will tell you very smart-sounding things like “We are witnessing a revolution in neuroscience and psychology. According to Nobel-prize winning psychologist Dr Mc. CleverCloggs, we are more likely to say ‘Yes’ to brands that comply with the KLT matrix….”. It all gets a bit much after a while, but basically when you strip away all the science, what it boils down to is this: people want to buy from brands they know, like and trust.

So, how do you do that?

Well, PR agencies aren’t just about media relations. The easiest way for any company to make the most of their PR campaigns is by dedicating a portion to a content marketing strategy. Who tells your story better than you, right? Not to brag, but we’re pretty good at content, I mean have you seen my other blogs?!

Joking aside, delivering a clear message about who you are and what you do through content, in real language that humans actually speak, is the best way to build a credible, trusted and well-liked brand through PR.

Oh, and content isn’t just about the written word anymore, don’t forget digital

For smaller brands and start-ups, this can often seem like a daunting challenge. How do you create a well-rounded narrative about your brand when you just want to sell some tech? These companies often forget their biggest assets – their people. A personal brand is so important, particularly for smaller businesses and start-ups. Why? because people buy from people. If you don’t have a 100-year history and stellar reputation to build a brand around, fine, but you do have people.

A carefully managed content and media engagement programme, that could (and really, in 2019, should) incorporate social media is the best way to position those within your businesses as experts within your industry. Simply put, PR can achieve that invaluable 3rd party media endorsement which helps make you and your company a thought leader.

If Al and Laura are right, and the PR cart is indeed pulling the advertising horse, then partnering with the right brand building agency is vital to staying the course for a business. Contact us to see whether we can steer you towards success.