Building a Brand Foundation: JCU Welcomes Brand Strategist Steven Picanza

Steven Picanza

Steven Picanza

JCU Business Administration Professor Silvia Pulino welcomed US Brand Strategy and Management expert Steven Picanza for a Zoom talk on building a solid brand foundation, on October 14, 2020.

With 15 years of experience helping startups by developing their own strategy, Picanza is co-founder of Latin & Code, a consulting agency that assists entrepreneurs in the creation of effective brands. He teaches at Drexel University in Philadelphia and at IED European Institute of Design in Milan, and writes for important publications such as Branders magazine and The Huffington Post.

Picanza focused his talk on building a successful brand foundation around three points, namely, popular branding misconceptions, core elements of a brand to create a solid foundation, and how to discover brand direction and craft a perfect one-liner.

Branding misconceptions
According to Picanza, branding is about paying attention to the needs of the client. A company’s brand is not defined by products, which are made to increase consumption. “Apple devices, for instance, are lifestyles, not just products. Apple sells more than just its products. Through their brand they sell the idea you are potentially able to challenge the status quo because you are buying more than just a product,” he said.

According to the speaker, branding is not advertising. “With advertising, you sell a product. With branding, instead, you build long-term trust,” claimed Picanza.

Furthermore, he added that despite companies using their website as a tool to get consumers into a big community, the site does not define the brand’s identity. He also reported that a brand is not a tagline. Modern-day brands focus on targeted audiences by spreading not just one but multiple lines to reinforce their message.

Modern-day brand
Effective branding is not focused on the organization but on the customers’ experience. “It is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name,” said Picanza. The goal is to develop a trustworthy relationship between client and supplier.

Also, a modern-day brand builds on the formula of trust, which is based on the company’s reliability and the customers’ delight. Picanza gave the example of Starbucks, which builds on ideas of trust, reliability, and customer experience. “In whatever Starbucks you go around the world, you already know the type of service you will be getting and how that service will be delivered.” For instance, “If you get a cappuccino that is not warm enough, they will immediately remake it for you,” added the speaker.

Steps for a solid foundation
In order to design an effective brand, entrepreneurs need to check the internal and external management of the company and conduct a customer analysis. Curating the internal management means questioning the reason behind the company’s foundation, its long- term goals, and the problems that need to be addressed. Regarding external management, Picanza highlighted the need to investigate competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

In addition, the speaker reported that when building a new brand, companies need to be aware of the customer’s identities, meaning conducting an in-depth analysis of personas in order to meet their demands.

Once the brand is developed, startups need to identify the company’s core values, brand promise, mission, vision, and purpose. Attention to these elements and awareness of competitors’ aims, business models, and drive will allow companies to increase their ranking within the market.

Branding principles
Moreover, Picanza said that companies need to have their unique ‘brand voice’ and ‘brand tone.’ The former is the character of the brand and is expressed through the company’s presentation, actions, and operations. The latter refers to the way a brand expresses itself by adapting to different customers’ scenarios.