We are frequently approached by businesses who want to know where to start when building a new brand. These companies are (naturally enough) typically focused on marketing channels, sales and listings. Brand development often takes a back seat to on-the-ground sales tactics because entrepreneurs don’t feel they have the time or resources to devote.
However, taking the time to develop a foundation for your brand will save time and resources and will improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts by ensuring that you employ tactics that are designed to be targeted and focused. This means less time and money spent on things that don’t deliver ROI.
The key is to approach brand development with limited, specific parameters that will ensure the process is not overwhelming and will deliver simple guidelines that can be used to inform marketing strategies and act as a checklist to evaluate tactics before they are executed. Take some time to evaluate and articulate your brand essence and then check to make sure your strategies and tactics conform.
It is important to understand that your brand exists solely in the mind of your customers. Your brand is the collection of thoughts and feelings associated with it in the mind of consumers. Our job as marketers is to help customers make the right associations.
1. Be Unique
Developing your brand essence is, first and foremost, about defining what differentiates your brand from competitors. Your brand needs to own, or at least legitimately compete for, this space. Differentiators need to be specific and connected to the root of what your product/service delivers and the values of your company.
2. Be Focused
It is tempting to try to be all things to all people. In order to effectively communicate your brand value to customers and create a lasting connection, your brand needs to identify with one core idea.
3. Be Authentic
Your customer has to believe the brand promise, and so do you. The brand essence you identify must truly represent what your product/service delivers and your core values.
Marketing strategies and tactics should be based on effectively communicating your brand essence. Remember that your brand essence is an internal guideline rather than a customer-facing slogan. When developing your communications, speak to the unique experience of your brand, check them against the brand essence you developed and always:
4. Be Consistent
Creating an association in the mind of consumers requires consistent messaging. Reinforcing the link between your message and your brand requires a consistent look and style. Be on-message and build a brand tool kit that ensures you look and sound the same through all channels.
5. Be Relevant
Your brand communications have to matter to the target or they will fail. Think from your customers’ perspective when developing material.
You made a promise. Now keep it. The experience of your brand, through any and all touch points, is what matters to consumers. Your brand promise must be delivered:
Every person in your organization has an impact on customer experience and therefore the brand. Therefore, brand creation is not just a marketing function. Make sure you have buy-in and understanding from everyone in your company. They need to comprehend and believe in the brand promise as well as have the tools and knowledge to consistently deliver it.
Your customer’s view of your brand is based primarily on their last interaction. Deliver on your brand promise or your brand will be re-defined.
These guidelines are intended to provide a simplified brand development process and check list. By ensuring that you follow these basics, you can avoid spending resources on tactics that don’t deliver ROI without getting too bogged-down or overwhelmed by the branding process.
Hit the ground running, but don’t leave your brand behind.