Regardless of the size of the company, its brand identity will be repeatedly communicated in multiple ways throughout the life of the business. Great brands do so with frequency and consistency. But it takes much more than a snappy logo to successfully brand a business, product or service. Successful branding isn't difficult. It begins with a commitment and one well-defined, relevant idea.
Five Key Elements
A strong brand is invaluable today as the battle for customers intensifies. It's important to spend time up front researching, defining, and building your brand. After all, it's the source of the promise you are making to your consumer. It's the foundational piece in your marketing communication plan and it's the one thing no company can afford to be without.
Unsure about where to start? Follow these five steps to establish a corporate brand. Think of the brand itself as a mantra that bears repeating. Plan to consistently execute the mantra. Consistent, cohesive use and repetition are central to the effectiveness of every branding strategy.
1 - Establish the Brand Position: The brand position is a clear written explanation of what the brand (or company) actually does and how. Once the proper "positioning" has been established, the marketing, advertising, social media and/or public relations plans will practically write themselves. Choose the positioning and you've begun the awareness-building process. Every strategic campaign flows from that single brand position. It becomes the brand's central message - one you can direct to the right target audiences.
2 - Make a Brand promise: The single most important thing an organization can do is make a promise about what it delivers to its customers. Every subsequent business decision should be weighed against this promise to ensure that it reflects the truth. Or, at the very least, the company must never contradict its core promise.
3 - Add Personality to Your Brand: What are the traits your brand (company) wants to be known for? Choose four or five specific personality traits (using simple descriptive adjectives) all corporate communications will use to describe the organization. Is your brand adventurous ... valuable ... affordable ... attainable... luxurious ... sexy ... fun ... exciting ... educational? Choose your words wisely. Make the commitment. Add several of these words to your "keywords."
4 - Write Your Brand Story: The story illustrates the organization's history, how the brand adds value to the marketplace, and it establishes brand credibility. Every subsequent publication, news release, online post or item in a communications packet or media kit should include credible statements taken directly from this "story." These should be used consistently and frequently across all departments, internally and externally (advertising, social media and PR).
5 - Associate Your Brand: Brand associations are the specific physical artifacts that make up a brand or corporate identity. They include but are not limited to: the name, logo, colors, taglines, collateral materials (brochure, letterhead, business cards, newsletters, websites) , photo and graphic imagery, and promotional items. Each item must consistently reflect the brand promise and ALL brand traits. By consistently conveying these in every corporate identifier, a brand is easily established.
Think carefully about the visual and audio clues which serve as constant everyday reminders being conveyed publicly. If your brand is positively associated, success naturally follows.
Simple branding can be the single biggest factor in marketing, reputation management, social media engagement and crisis communication. Without it, potential customers become confused, messages and opportunities are lost with each inconsistent reminder.
Think you don't need branding? Think again.
Consistency is everything in a world where the average citizen is bombarded on and offline by nearly 70,000 messages in a day. Sure, it's easy to falter "just this one time" because the staff is busy or someone mistakenly believed that a post or document would only be seen internally. It's such small missteps that have made hundreds of great brands irrelevant today.
Without a consistent look and feel to every single message, even the best branding strategy will lapse. Once that happens, no amount of money spent on advertising can repair the damage. In marketing and corporate communications, out of sight still means out of mind.
Branding is your identity in the marketplace. Does yours say what it should about you?