A company’s brand is much more than just its logo. It’s how the public perceives a company and what they believe about the products or services provided. A solid and well-managed brand can help you stand out from the competition, attract new customers, and give them a reason to return. But developing a world-class brand takes time and effort; there are no shortcuts! The following five steps will help you develop and manage a successful branding strategy.
1. Determine Your Company’s Brand Power
Before you start building a strong brand, it’s essential to know how the public currently views your company, so you can compare it to the end goal. Once you determine this as a baseline, you can keep track of your successes and failures as you build your brand over time.
Tips to determining your company’s brand power:
- Review your company’s mission statement, values, and goals.
- Perform a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis: What are you doing well? What areas need improvement? Build on your strengths and determine how to address the weaknesses.
- Review customer testimonials or feedback from surveys sent out to customers and use that information to improve your products or services.
- Determine whether customers trust and respect your company’s brand and/or products or services.
2. Identify What Sets You Apart From the Competition
If your company sells similar products as a competitor, you should focus on those things that make you stand out from the crowd. What differentiates your product or service from theirs? Is it special food packaging that separates yours from the rest of the grocery store products? If so, how do people perceive that difference, and why is it important to them? Think about these things, and then develop a message around your brand that is unique.
Tips to identifying what set you apart:
- Write down a list of your company’s strengths. What are you known for?
- Think about how to best market your products or services, so they’re more enticing and memorable.
Define your target audience. Once you know what makes you unique, think about who will be most interested in your brand’s unique quality or feature. Your target audience can be based on several factors, including:
- Geographic location (state, city, or neighborhood)
- Interests or hobbies
- Financial status
3. Establish Clear Communications
Since your brand will be part of numerous marketing pitches, you’ll want to ensure that it’s consistent at all times. Review your current branding materials (such as its logo or slogan) and identify any opportunities for improvement or inconsistencies in the design. Is the logo too small or faded? Are you using different fonts or colors in different marketing materials? Make sure all of your materials look professional and be consistent with how you use them throughout all communications.
TIP: Keep your logo or branding consistent depending on the type of material (business cards, website, letterhead)
- Use the same verbiage in all communications.
- Establish how you want to be referred to before being used at all times. (“Red Lobster” can be written as “Red lobster” or “RedLobster”–it’s vital to decide which one you want it to be!)
4. Be Mindful of the Details
It’s also essential to ensure that your branding material looks good on every platform. For example, your logo on a billboard looks very different from the logo in print materials or online ads; it’s essential to make sure that all of these appear good individually as well as in combination.
Why should you be mindful of every detail? Because your customers may see a logo in one place and then a different version of that logo somewhere else. They won’t be impressed with your brand if it looks unprofessional or is inconsistent.
Tips to be mindful of the details:
- Use only high-quality print material for your business cards.
- Make sure all photos on signage are up to date.
- Check your website for grammatical errors.
5. Monitor Results
Once you’ve established a consistent and accurate brand image, monitor its performance over time to ensure that you’re still meeting the expectations of your customers. Drifting away your core principles can potentially cost your client, so make sure that all branding efforts support the company’s mission and vision.
How to monitor results:
- Make sure your logo or slogan is consistently applied across all materials and platforms (i.e., website, business cards, etc.)
- Track how many people are visiting your website based on different modes of communication. If a particular advertising method resulted in an increase in traffic, then use that for future promotions!
- Analyze how your customers are reacting to new website changes or sales promotions. Are these methods yielding the desired results?
- Make sure that all branding materials are consistent with the company’s mission and vision. If they aren’t, you may be sending inconsistent messages that could hurt your image over time!
To create a strong brand, you need to understand what makes your organization unique and then communicate those strengths in a clear, consistent way. Developing a solid branding plan is just the first step; sticking to it and monitoring performance over time will help you reach your ultimate goal!