With the increasing number of places that your stakeholders can interact online and offline today, it’s more important than ever for you to develop cutting-edge brand strategies that deliver results.
• Build brands by launching strategic initiatives that define their brand strategy.
• Organize brand portfolios
• Develop identity standards that include core key communication messages and visual elements.
Afterwards, the company typically launches a brand-building plan.
While these branding components show encouraging signs of enhancing the business’s image, the most important part of branding – being your brand – remains tenuous.
Branding is about building relationships with stakeholders that transcend your products and services.
Your brand is basically shorthand for what your company is all about. With all the volume of competing messages and images, you need to have something that strikes a chord with your customers in a simple, concise way. Your brand creates a belief about what your company delivers to them.
The purpose of branding is to articulate your brand’s promise – your promise to customers and others. It is a way to differentiate your company, products and services from competitors, and to provide it with a personality that is both unique and appealing to your stakeholders. It is a multifaceted, multilayered process and discipline. It’s much more than your logo, corporate colors, marketing slogans and icons.
The benefit –
Well-focused and consistent attention to branding is the most effective way to compete, to rise above the noise and become a factor in your industry.
The importance –
Branding has taken on a greater significance as companies now see their brands as assets – as valuable and as tangible as factories and patents. It’s the cornerstone upon which brand equity is built.
The challenge –
Managing your identity so it is an accurate reflection of your company is an ongoing process. Brand management has sound disciplines that make significant differences to how well a brand is protected and presented. It means focusing on the big picture – the brand’s essence, mapping out competitors in your brand’s category, and identifying new obstacles or opportunities to ensure building your brand’s value. Brand management is the ultimate protector of profit margins. It’s about living your brand.
Your brand strategy should include –
Identify the brand – All the distinctive elements associated with your products and services must be identified. Why customers care or should care about what it is you offer and what makes it different from your competitors. This is the identity that you are creating for your customers.
Build the brand – After the distinctive elements are identified, it must be framed in succinct messages that people can understand and relate to. This will reinforce your brand.
Promote the brand – What good is a message if no one hears it? Your company must make a strong pledge to consistently market its products or services, and, over time, to solidify its identity in customers’ minds.
Developing and Reinforcing Your Brand
Your message is chosen; marketing, advertising and public relations activities are actively promoting it. However, your entire organization must be living it. There must be a direct connection between your brand and the customer’s experience – when he / she walks in your door, talks to your sales team and purchases your product or service.
You must have a brand promise. You can’t expect your employees or customers to remember a long list of adjectives that describes everything the company does. A brand promise that lists everything that your company does results in being nothing to anyone.
Branding requires executive team involvement, supported by your branding agency to help you align your image and identity. You need to define the essence of your brand. What is the company passionate about? Pick one. Align your business units with that passion. Too many companies don’t express a passion. If there is a brand promise, business divisions are not in alignment with it; some are a bunch of disconnected divisions, each with their own agenda.
Honing in on your brand promise requires some serious introspection and discussion. It should not be what you do. It’s how you do it. How you want your customers to feel when interacting with your company.
What you do will change over time. How you do it should not. Your brand promise creates a trust factor that should remain the same. The benefit of a branded customer experience is enhanced customer loyalty.
As your company grows and adds new products, a strong brand position and promise gives you a pathway to follow. It’ll help you prioritize new initiatives based on your brand promise. It’ll guide you to research and development (R&D) of new products and services that are relevant to the company’s passion.
Be Your Brand
Once your brand promise has been identified, you need to energize and inspire your employees to change their behaviors to live your brand and deliver on your brand’s promise. You need to motivate and empower employees to become your brand ambassadors at all levels of your company. It must start at the top and trickle down to all employees.
Your brand strategy must be merged with company culture. You need to establish a strong sense of purpose and shared sense of direction. If you do, your employees will actively engage your unique brand promise every day. Then, and only then, will your customer preference and experience accurately reflect your brand’s values.