Coca Cola. Apple. Heinz. Lego. Successful brands transcend changes in the organization. Even when new products are created or new markets are entered, the sense of what the brand means and stands for often remains the same. And as The Guardian reports, brands take a lifetime to build, but their reputation can be shattered in an instant.

Indian River Advisors is an investment banking and corporate development consulting firm dedicated to helping our clients accelerate growth and complete desired transactions at the most favorable value. At Indian River, we help you get the most value from your company by increasing what your company is worth. Effective and enduring branding is a key part of this work.

So how do you make a brand that lasts? And what makes a brand endure?

To answer these questions in Forbes, Margaret Perlis highlights four steps that can serve as a foundation for any brand:

  1. Build a product with promise: “At the core of any enduring brand is a product, service, or person backed by a promise,” Perlis writes in Forbes. In other words, do what you do or make what you make at the highest possible level. For example, Hermes (a brand Perlis has a fondness for) rejects assembly lines and mechanization. They claim every object they sell was fabricated by an artisan, which demonstrates their deep commitment to quality and artistry.
  2. Innovate & Integrate: It might seem to be a contradiction, but brands need to be able to adapt while staying true to their core values (for more on the importance of core values to enterprise value, please see Indian River’s post, “Develop Core Values.”). For example, Hermes began by making leather goods for horses – but then came the automobile, and the company had to take their commitment to quality and artistry and apply it to the car instead.
  3. Consistency: Markdowns, rapid stylistic changes, products that don’t seem to fit in the brand – to make your brand endure, it’s important to avoid seemingly sudden and random changes. When a customer sees your product, they should be able to recognize it and have a sense of what the experience with it will be like. Perlis points to the experience of opening a Hermes box and how the look and feel of the package match the luxury of the item it contains – and that’s been the case for years, she says.
  4. Experiential Currency: There is no handbook for how to develop this, primarily because it’s something your customers will do on their own by incorporating your product into the rhythm, of their lives. Part of what can make a brand endure is when customers make your brand part of their lifetime rituals. Maybe you give your spouse a Hermes scarf every Valentine’s Day, for example? Or you associate a Coke with Fourth of July cookouts and fireworks. “The value of those meaningful and consistent moments keeps people coming back,” Perlis writes.

It used to be that brands were thought of as concepts or objects, Mark Bonchek and Cara France writes in the Harvard Business Review. It was thought that people had relationships with brands. But that thinking has changed. In the age of social media, the relationship is the brand, Bonchek and France insist. “By defining a brand’s particular kind of relationship,” they write, “companies can create greater engagement, differentiation, and loyalty.”

What kind of relationship does your brand communicate? How do your customers and clients experience your brand? Does your brand remain true to your company’s core values? At Indian River Advisors, we work with our clients to help maximize enterprise value prior to entering a transaction. Evaluating your brand, its effectiveness, and whether it’s built for longevity is crucial to this process and a key value driver for your business.

If you have questions about how to create a brand that endures – or if you have more general questions about maximizing the enterprise value of your business – please contact Marshall Graham, the founder and Managing Partner of Indian River Advisors, at (202) 494-0360 or email him at Marshall has over 30 years of experience as an investment banker and corporate development consultant. He founded Indian River because he recognized that few middle market firms were well prepared to enter into a corporate transaction. Part of that preparation includes understanding your brand or the brand of the company you’re considering purchasing. Marshall looks forward to working with you.