The Importance of Being Earnest About Your Brand
Nowadays every business, every organization, exclaims “branding” in their pursuits of marketing, sales, new business development, or even building employee morale. Yet inherently, their definitions of what a brand is and how they orchestrate them, are all too often quite different in their approach, how they’re applied and more importantly, how they evolve.
It’s really quite simple. Before any organization pronounces a brand or refreshes an old one, they need to understand and embrace the criteria, structure, and vehicles that will successfully articulate and communicate its features. As I have taught my upper-division Branding class students, if you embrace these straightforward precepts, you’ll be well on your way of creating and implementing a successful brand.
Clarify Your Strategy.
Any brand initiative should start with a brand audit and end with a summary of your intentions. This should include a history of your organization, any market research, interview of key stakeholders, and having it culminate into a written brand brief. Your brief becomes the foundation from which you visually articulate your organization and why you exist.
Creatively Define Your Brand’s Assets.
Your brand is not just your identity. Your brand is comprised of various visual components (assets) that cumulatively portray the image and message of your organization. These assets can always be categorized in the following manner: Your identity system; Photographs and/or Illustrations; Typography; Color Palette; Pattern or Textures; Key (Brand) Message Points. Create flexibility with your assets. This positions your business for change and growth and supports evolving market strategies.
Identify Your Brand Touchpoints.
Once you’ve refined your brand assets, you want to determine how and to what mediums (touchpoints) they will be applied. Create a wish list of where your brand messaging should reside. Your website is a given, most likely your business cards too, but what forms of brand communication are most appropriate for you organization? Print collateral? Advertising? Packaging? eNewsletters and Social media? Your office or store interiors? Your uniforms, signage, etc. all play an important (touchpoint) role in connecting your brand with those audiences you intend to reach. Be consistent in the way your clients experience your brand touchpoints, so they feel familiar with your brand.
Implement & Manage Your Brand.
Successful brands require enlightened leadership and commitment. You can have a great brand, but if it’s not managed properly, if the actual implementation is weak, you’ll never be able to generate the traction and therefore memorability of your organization’s brand. Everyone has a budget to work within. Identify your most important touchpoints. Based on your budget, develop an implementation strategy that provides the most direct and effective coverage your brand’s message. Review their effectiveness regularly. Evolve your brand with new campaigns that identify various attributes of who you are as an organization. If needed, adjust the ‘where’ and ‘how often’ your brand is conveyed within your respective marketplaces.
Whether they are true in reality, or not, market perceptions drive the success of any business. Your brand drives those perceptions. Don’t portray the obvious or cliché. Be distinctive about who you are and what you represent to your clientele. An appetition for research, smart creative processes, passion, and innovative technology, even humor are all effective components in creating and implementing enduring value to your brand.