A brand is about trust, and trust is in short supply. This short supply increases its value. It's a promise of performance. It's a type of insurance for the customer because it gives them safety and security.
Your particular product or approach should have strong appeal to your ideal customers - those that you are meant to serve. It should also repel or at least have no appeal to those that you are not meant to serve. If you try to appeal to everyone you won't have a strong appeal to anyone.
We're all overwhelmed by choice. There are more products and services out there competing for our attention than we can deal with. Imagine sitting down at a restaurant and being handed a 50 page menu. Would you feel overwhelmed? Yet that's exactly what customers deal with every time they're looking for a service provider or want to purchase a product.
Nobody has the time or desire to research all of these possible choices. We rely on names that we have heard of and the recommendations of others. We can't possibly evaluate which is the BEST choice (and still might not know for sure after wasting a week of our time investigating). We want to reduce or remove the risk of making a poor choice. We choose the SAFE choice.
This is where brands come in. Brands are a shortcut to buying. They allow a consumer to narrow their search or eliminate it completely. I'll buy a Sony TV not because I think a particular model is the best TV that I can buy, but because it's an excellent, safe and easy choice.
Your brand must stand for something. It must always create positive feelings and experiences for your customers. It's a way of controlling how others talk and think of your products or service. It's created not just by what you say, but what you do. It must come through with every point of contact with your customer.
You must be totally consistent. Customers must know from experience exactly what to expect when they buy from you. This consistency must be reflected in your sales message, your website and brochures, how your phone is answered, and how you treat your customers. If you fail to perform in any area your ability to build a brand is greatly diminished. It's all about trust and dependability. Don't betray it.
How long does does it take to create a brand? YEARS. Is it worth it? Absolutely.