Your brand is in essence a promise to your customer about what you will deliver to them. Branding tells customers who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.
Developing a solid branding strategy is essential, no matter the size of your business or the industry it is in. Branding creates a loyal customer base and differentiates you from your competitors.
Know what a branding strategy is
Before contemporary marketing came into play it was widely assumed that the term ‘brand’ was simply the non-generic word used to identify the source of a product. However, this definition has expanded and now includes various qualities and attributes.
A brand is what your prospect or customer thinks of when they hear your brand name. This association can be factual (e.g. what the product looks like, or its features) and emotional (e.g. the emotions that people feel when using or seeing your product).
A branding strategy is simply how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering your brand messages. Such a strategy adds value to your products or services, and can even allow you to charge more than others in a similar field are able to.
Define your brand
Before you can develop a branding strategy you need to know what your brand is. To do this there are a few questions you can ask yourself:
* What does your company specialise in?
* What is the mission statement (or core purpose) of your company?
* What is the tagline or message you want your customers to see and associate with your company?
* What values do your products or services have? What values does your company possess?
* Who is your target market? What kind of customers does your product and/or services attract?
* Is there something unique about your company or products that differentiates you from competitors?
* How would your customers describe your company?
* What is your company’s promise to customers?
Once you have answered these questions (go in-depth and get employees as well as existing customers involved), you can create a character or personality for your company. What qualities does this personality have? What stands out about this personality? How would you describe this character – is it spontaneous, corporate, serious, creative, innovative?
Find out what the ‘essence’ of your company is. If Disneyland can be described as magical and Ferrari as luxurious, what would customers see your essence as being? Which emotions arise when a customer interacts with either your company or your products?
Get a great logo
Use our guide to creating a great logo, and then make sure to get it out there. The more people see it, the more recognisable it will become. It is a small part of the branding strategy, but it is still important.
Practise brand integration
Make sure your branding is visible in all aspects of your business: from the way your receptionist answers calls, to how you interact with clients during meetings, what your email signatures look like and what your salespeople wear on sales calls.
To make this easier, ensure that everyone in the company knows the brand and how the company should appear to the outside world. Train employees on brand integration and your company’s branding in general.
Extending your brand to all areas of your company implies consistency to your customers. Your message should be clear and the same across the board. If your message is to change the industry that you are in for the better, then actively do so. This shows that you deliver on your promises. When customers and potential investors spot inconsistency in your branding, it might make the company seem flighty and unreliable.
Learn the 5 branding connectors
To further expand your brand strategy, learn what the 5 connectors with your customer are and what they mean:
How well does your brand connect with customers? This is called brand positioning. You need to create a definitive picture of your brand in the minds of your target market. Is it appropriate for certain geographical areas? Is it distinctive when placed next to competitors? Is it accessible to your target audience?
What focused choices is your brand making to drive growth and profits? This is your brand plan. This brand plan has decisions within it that consistently move the company and products forward in a way that benefits both the company and its customers. Are you making what you’re offering accessible and living up to customer expectations?
3) Brand story
How does your brand communicate its differences and move customers? This is about communication. How do you explain what you are offering and doing to your customers in a way that appeals to them and urges them to take action?
How innovative is your brand? Do your products stay on top of trends? Does your company think outside of the box?
How well does the experience your customers have with your brand live up to your promise? This connector relates to your company culture. Is it focused on the customer’s satisfaction? Does a customer’s interaction with your brand contradict the promise you made to them? If you promise delivery within two days, then the customer’s interaction with your brand should reflect that. Do you promise service with a smile? Then all of your customers should have that experience.
In essence, brand strategy is a complex and all-encompassing plan which every aspect of your business should be geared towards delivering on. Align all departments to work towards hitting those brand strategy goals – because at the end of the day, brand consistency and living up to your brand promises is what wins you customers.