Branding is connecting with your customer, it should excite, engage and demonstrate complete understanding of your target market. A brand is not a given, it is earnt and respected. It will not happen overnight but needs to grow over time. Successful CEOs and business owners know that branding goes deeper than a name and logo. Logos, tag lines and advertising campaigns are traditional marketing tactics that merely scratch the surface. Brands fundamentally connect with customers.
A strong brand can give you the competitive edge you need. They can create greater customer loyalty, make you less sensitive to competitive pricing, increase trial of new products, increase support from trade partners, provide focus to marketing efforts, allow you to attract the resources you need such as talent and capital, are instrumental in developing strategic partnerships and act as a powerful tool for guiding internal decision making. Keeping this in mind, it’s easy to see that a strong brand is a powerful tool for all businesses: whether selling a product or service, to consumers or to other businesses. A well-defined brand strategy is especially critical for start-up companies or those looking to expand.
Building a strong brand is about having a clear understanding of what your brand stands for, and then making sure everyone else understands it too. It is as simple — and as complicated — as that. Building or reenergizing your brand starts with answering some questions about your product or business: Who are my customers? What customers do I want to have? Who are my competitors? What is my competitors’ brand position? What problem does my company solve? Does anybody care? What is my value proposition? Is it distinctive? Is it relevant to my customers? When people think about my company what are the feelings and associations? What are the functional benefits that we deliver? What are the emotional benefits that we deliver to our customers? What kind of personality will my brand have? When you answer these questions, you will have the basic building blocks of your brand strategy. Developing your brand strategy is much more than a marketing tactic. It’s a fundamental part of good business. Done right it becomes a powerful management and execution tool to help you develop stronger customer relationships, create effective, cost-efficient marketing campaigns and a more unified organization. Brand personality can set your brand apart from the competition and in turn build a strong brand and relationship with your customer.
To stand out from the crowd and be different in the market space having a clear and defined USP is critical in defining who you are, what you do and why. In essence you USP. A unique selling proposition is what your business stands for. It’s what sets your business apart from others because of what your business makes a stand about. Instead of attempting to be known for everything, businesses with a unique selling proposition stand for something specific, and it becomes what you’re known for. So how do you start to define your USP: Make a list of all the potential differentiators of your brand and what you sell. And get specific. … Research the competition. … Compare your most unique angles against your audience’s needs. … Compile the data. … Think about viable ways to apply it across your business… Be honest with yourself and business offering. Once you have a defined USP you can then start to position and tell your brand story
Brand positioning has been defined by Kotler as “the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”. In other words, brand positioning describes how a brand is different from its competitors and where, or how, it sits in customers’ minds. A brand positioning strategy therefore involves creating brand associations in customers’ minds to make them perceive the brand in a specific way. Hitting the emotional notes mentioned earlier. By shaping
consumer preferences, brand positioning strategies are directly linked to consumer loyalty, consumer- based brand equity and the willingness to purchase the brand. Effective brand positioning can be referred as the extent to which a brand is perceived as favourable, different and credible in consumers’ minds.
Once you know the space your brand sits in, the values and purpose that define it, and its distinct, valuable strengths, you can then develop a series of key messages to communicate to existing and potential clients, employees and key stakeholders. You can create a messaging hierarchy, so that everyone communicating on your brand’s behalf knows the primary, secondary and tertiary messages of the most relevance and value to each distinct audience. Then choose the right medium for communicating those messages, whether print, digital, online, social, video or PR. Where and how you communicate your brand is as important as what you are saying about your brand. In a market where digital and social are constantly evolving finding innovative ways to communicate your brands messaging is vital.
Words matter. Not just what you say, but how you say it. Align what you say and how you say it with the distinct values of your brand. Find an authentic voice that communicates the reasons why you and your employees get out of bed in the morning. Engage with existing and potential customers on the emotional level where buying decisions are made. Find a lexicon and a tone of voice that ring true in in every brand expression across every communications medium.
Rebranding is important business, but it takes time, effort and money to start resourcing and building a fire-proof strategy. And without the tools and the know-how, it can prove a very challenging and stressful task. But the long and short of it is that your business may need it. Mentioned in the above points we have discussed how vital branding is and how to brand your business, helping you craft and create a brand blueprint that will ignite your business and represent who you and your clients are. Like the showstopper you are, you’ve created your brand, business, and staged it to your wide-eyed audience. But over time though, changes have come in, forcing you in different directions that you didn’t even think you would head in. But guess what? That is a good thing! Many, many business owners see the need to rebrand their business to enhance and enliven it, drawing closer to their target audience and drawing in new clientele. The world is constantly changing and evolving – its paramount that you keep with that journey or before you know it your competition will have stolen the march and you could well be playing catch up. Be open minded and ready for change – as change is a good thing, plus it also gives you a great opportunity to reengage with current clients and excite new ones.
All businesses have a brand, whether it’s been consciously constructed or has simply developed over time. Brand guidelines, sometimes called a style guide, are an essential part of an effective marketing strategy. Essentially, a brand guideline is a document that guides employees and designers on how different elements of the business should be used. For example, brand guidelines might suggest how to use the following things: Fonts – including the look and sizes of headers and body text. Logos – including the right colours, the right sizes, the right alternative logos etc. Colour palettes – what specific colours should be used in online and print material. Approved images. Tone of voice and stylistic guidelines. Creating a set of brand guidelines requires an incredible amount of thought and a comprehensive understanding of the business. However, there are several reasons why going to the effort of creating a set of brand guidelines is worth it. So why do you need brand guidelines? They help create a strong brand identity. Consistency is key. Constructing an identity, no matter what it is, is much easier when you have a set of guidelines to help you maintain a coherent image. Strong and consistent branding helps clarify what your business stands for, allowing your business to communicate your purpose, your personality, and your promises. For example, a law firm or a higher education institute might have more stringent rules about how they use tone of voice on social media than a restaurant or a creative agency. A consistent tone of voice, and a consistent brand identity, helps keep a business on-message and on brand. They aid brand recognition – This is the most obvious reason why businesses need brand guidelines. The consistency that guidelines create means that brands are instantly recognisable to customers, without having to introduce who you are and what you do. This all links back to your brand’s identity – the stronger and more consistent it is, the more likely your audience is going to recognise you and identify you amongst your competitors. Having consistent brand guidelines also means that when you come to add to your store of designed products – whether it’s an additional logo, a Twitter header, or a new email signature – the new addition is going to gel with your existing designs and be just as recognisable, even though your customers haven’t seen it before!
The age-old question of determining if you need to bring in an external brand agency is still
relevant today. Whether it’s because of tight budgets, a general ‘we can do it ourselves’
mentality, companies still look internally to tackle their brand communications. Whether it’s a repositioning, a new visual identity, or an all-around brand turnaround, this might be a mistake for businesses who really want to position themselves to thrive in a fast-paced, highly competitive market that today’s marketplace is. So, what value can an agency bring?
A fresh perspective:
It is easy to get stuck in old models of thinking. And those close to the business often have
blinders on about what’s not working and what can be improved. As a result, an outside
perspective is often key to fostering innovation, creativity, and problem solving. New
questions arise. The conversation changes. People get unstuck and realigned. And key
business problems are solved with efficiency.
Expertise and skill:
Agencies bring to bear a diverse array of experiences from many different industries. And this broad perspective is invaluable. Agencies have proven frameworks and methodologies to solve problems and uncover opportunities. As such, they can prescribe the best approach based on your specific situation and needs. And they have a team of professionals that have tackled all kinds of different business, brand, and culture challenges and bring that knowledge to the table for you. And it is this kind of expertise that guarantees a better positioned, more meaningful, effective, and impactful strategy.
The ability to move with speed:
Speed is key to competing today. So, if your brand can’t move quickly, adapt dynamically, and fast forward itself towards the future, your business won’t be able thrive in today’s competitive landscape. A branding agency brings a dedicated focus to your project that is just not possible for an internal team that is already balancing a full plate. Also, financial investment in a project makes it more of a priority and guarantees the attention of executives that it needs to get it done.
Readiness for change:
Change is hard. And it’s often difficult for those inside your business to convince others on the inside that the change is right. The external perspective an agency brings along with proven experience could be what is needed to help your team take that strategic step forward. And once the strategy is approved inside the C-Suite, it is time to once again lean on the experience of the agency to develop a plan to successfully socialize it through the rest of the organization.
An understanding of the value of brand strategy:
Investing in a brand strategy means investing in your business. There’s great value in making a purposeful, meaningful brand strategy a core driver of an organization. But key players inside the organization might not hold the same opinion. There is much value to gain well beyond the marketing team. As a result, guidance communicating the value of investing in a brand strategy to everyone within your business is key to the project’s success. Sales, product, human resources, customer success and engineering can all benefit greatly. An agency can help assure that you have the right level of support for it to pay off.
A long-term partnership:
A top branding agency engagement should bring value beyond just the current project at hand. It’s hugely beneficial to have a group of people outside of your organization. These people already understand your business inside and out. And as business progresses and important decisions arise, they are there to seek out for guidance. A strong relationship with an agency can help build a valuable network that can grow and grow.
Some things are better done together. And building a strong, impactful, and meaningful brand requires all the people key to your success coming together. Invest in working with a branding agency and you will add an entire team that can work alongside yours. Invest in your brand’s success and position your business for greatness. Looking at the business and brand holistically, brings together joined up thinking, single minded propositions and clarity. A brand agency should never be your client but be an extension of your brand.