BRANDING IS THE PROCESS OF BEING INTENTIONAL AND STRATEGIC ABOUT SHAPING THE EXPERIENCE PEOPLE HAVE WITH YOUR COMPANY.
A brand is not simply your logo, it’s the experience of your product, service or company as a whole.
It includes researching and articulating what you stand for, expressing it tangibly (“brand identity,” that’s where logos come in), creating a long term strategy and guidelines, and then managing the daily interactions and touch points that customers have with your company in all their many forms.
A logo is the graphic mark that identifies your product/company in it’s most basic essence. Though very important in itself, it’s best viewed as a visual reference point for your brand as a whole. A logo should be the outcome of a wider branding process that explores the company’s vision, values and projected client experience. A Brand Identity is simply the combination of all of your visual components such as your logo, color palette, collateral, advertising and so on. To simplify, we can create the analogy of your brand being a person; the face (logo) is how people recognize you, the attire (identity) is what communicates your style, and the personality (brand) is what determines your character as a whole based on what you say and how you act.
Build your brand around a big idea that’s simple to understand and big enough to create a lasting impression with consumers:
- Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper.
- Use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers.
- Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise.
- The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.
- Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day.
It's not about you, it's about the consumer.
Successful brands make you FEEL something, and that's why we love them. We may be business owners, but we are also consumers. Think about what companies make you want to purchase from them or invest in them. It's rarely because of a slick sales pitch. It's about the balance of value and emotion.
In essence, a brand is just an idea. It's how they perceive you, how they feel about you, what they say about you - it's subconscious yet definitive. Knowing how your target market perceives you is the first step in making sure you are projecting the right message, in the right place, with the right voice. Speak your message in the simplest terms possible. Give your consumer the most intellectually tangible information possible, so they don't have to work for it. If they have to think too hard to understand your message, they won't try.
Flex your muscles! Showing consumers the HOW and WHY in simple terms builds trust, giving them a reason to believe that you are better than your competition. This is the time to be a storyteller. Give them a "before and after" to gawk at. Demonstrate a side-by-side comparison of products. Reposition your competition (Apple ads pegging PC as the nerdy idiot for instance) in a way that highlights your strengths.
Staying on-brand is crucial. It is easy to get excited about new creative marketing strategies or advertising ideas, but also easy to stray from your brand essence. Implementing it may work and create revenues for a short period. However, that will not create brand value over time. If any brand initiative, communication, experience or interaction with the brand does not exude the value of the brand strategy and position, toss it and call a meeting with the creative team.
Your brand position's success starts with a CEO decision. In order for a brand’s position strategy to be successful, it must be at the core of the CEO’s business strategy and execution plan. Without it, your marketing team will simply introduce a great new product to consumers that is replicated by a company lead by a CEO who lives that principle. Instead, be that CEO.
Lastly, never stop positioning, testing and innovating on your brand strategy. View challenges as opportunities. Go the extra mile to inject a soul into your brand. Give your consumers a reason to believe in you and that is your key to staying power.
BRAND PLAN SUMMARY
What do you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years? Vision gives everyone on the brand a clear direction, it should be measurable (quantitative) and motivating (qualitative). It should push you so much that it scares you a little, but excites you a lot. Taking the time to establish a realistic vision for your company will greatly impact the decisions you make moving forward.
Why does your brand exist? What are your brand values? Keep asking yourself why you do this, to find the personal motivation hidden in the brand. Articulating your purpose can be a very powerful way to connect with both employees and consumers, giving your brand a soul. This is what makes you invaluable in the face of competition.
What do you need to achieve? Specific measures of brand health and wealth, related to consumer/customer behavioral changes, metrics of key programs, performance targets or milestones on the pathway to the vision. It’s the brand scoreboard.
What goals and requirements do you have for sales, A&P spending, margins, profits, market share? Knowing where you need to be is crucial in how far reaching your efforts need to be.
What is getting the way from achieving your vision/goals? Deep analysis highlights what’s driving and holding brand back, as well as future risks and untapped opportunities. Issues are asked as a question to provide the problem to which strategies become the solution.
How can we get there? Strategies are the “how” you will win the market with choices based on market opportunities, using consumers, competitors or situational. Strategies should have a pin-pointed focus providing a breakthrough on the pathway to the brand vision.
What do we need to do to execute the strategy? Framed completely by strategy, tactical choices deploy your limited resources against brand projects in the most efficient way to drive a high ROI.
Marketing Budget to achieve Results
Establish what you are willing or able to spend broken out by trade spend, communication, consumer promo, new products and research.