So, what’s this thing called “branding” that everyone talks about? Branding is one of those terms that if you ask ten different marketing experts to define it, you’ll get ten different answers. The one consistent point you will hear is how important a coordinated branding program is to your company’s success.
It’s all about your customers’ perception.
Branding can become a strategic and powerful asset for any company. It has nothing to do with how you perceive your company, its products and services. It has everything to do with how your customers and prospects perceive your company, its products and services.
Branding is many things, but mainly it is a process of positively differentiating yourself from your competition and making sure your target audience knows why you’re different. Your target audience must be made to know what they can expect when doing business with you. In a nutshell, your brand is the intangible component of your company that gives customers a compelling reason to do business with you instead of your competition.
The power of branding.
A properly developed brand is a powerful asset. Brands don’t just happen; they are carefully and strategically created. What comes to mind when you think of BMW automobiles, McDonald’s restaurants or Owens-Corning insulation? If the relentless branding efforts by these companies have paid off, these brands should create a comfort level and an understanding of what you can expect when doing business with them.
So how do you build a brand?
Unless you have a huge marketing budget to undertake a major league branding campaign, like the sample companies outlined above, you’ll need to take a realistic, common-sense approach to branding your company. Consider an approach that uses your existing marketing promotions, efforts and dollars to continuously contribute to your overall branding effort.
Let’s get the most basic requirement out of the way first. All of the materials and messaging your company produces and distributes must be consistent. This includes your company and product logos, ads, website, public relations, online marketing, brochures and other collateral materials and anything else that delivers your message to your targeted market.
From a visual perspective, there should be a distinctive creative style to everything you create. Your messaging must always be simple to understand, unique and consistent.
Here’s where it gets a little deeper. Developing a true brand is much more than creating ads, brochures and websites with a similar look and message. Branding is a comprehensive system of developing a corporate philosophy that translates into everything you do.
What’s it like to do business with your company? From the moment a customer calls, walks into your retail location or encounters a salesperson somewhere within the channel, the building of your brand is at work. You cannot and should not leave this to chance. To create a powerful brand, you must incorporate every aspect of your business process into the development of your brand.
For example, you want to brand yourself as a customer service organization, yet when someone calls your company, they get an impersonal voice mail system. How do you think this may affect your overall brand?
Take a close look at every aspect of your business as it relates to your marketing and advertising functions. The development of a brand does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing process in which you are establishing, maintaining and enhancing your company’s image, recognition, trust and comfort level among your customers and prospects at every point of contact.
Build a trusted brand and it will pay huge dividends for you.
Gumas wrote the book on Challenger Brand Marketing. This has been an excerpt from Marketing Smart. A collective of proven marketing strategies and tips to help Challenger Brands take on their larger competitors…and win! Download an E-book version of the Marketing Smart for free here.