WHY BOTHER WITH BRANDING?
Shaun Cole, director of Lincolnshire creative agency Ideafuel.
Like it or not, or indeed regardless of whether it is intended, we are all a brand. A personal brand or a company brand, as soon as something is named or introduced, a set of perceptions and an identity arises as a result of the image presented.
Your company brand identity is based on the perception that your customers, and those who influence the purchase decision have gained from what they have seen or heard (or not seen and heard in some instances!) during their research on your company, or their interactions with it.
A number of factors combine to affect their decision to buy from you or one of your competitors. So it is always important to know what these people think about your company and why they have arrived at this perception, especially if you wish to change them.
So, what makes a succesful brand?
Is it all about having a well recognised logo, and if so how do you create a great logo and promote your company effectively?
Is it about colour? Colour is often used to denote the values or ethics of a business. Red for wamth and black for confidence and traditionalism, whereas perhaps colours like pink and yellow are associated with feminine brands.
Is it based on what you do, your products and your service? Honda make cars and bikes, but also mowers, hence their strapline, “the power of dreams” doesn’t pigeon hole them to any one product line.Your brand image should ideally be aligned with what you do.
Is it developed from the characteristics of your customers? Many brands are created according to or as a result of the type of customers it wants to attract. Most successful businesses know alot about their customers and target their brand accordingly.
Is it developed by the attitude of your employees? This is one of the most important elements, as in most cases your people are the physical representation of your the brand and need to live up to your brand promises and its values, as people really do buy from people.
This all begs the question as to whether a successful brand can be created through a creative logo and effective marketing and communications. Indeed, this is a very powerful way to manage brand perceptions and it is true, a well defined, focused marketing and communications plan can help manage perceptions and help you grow and develop your brand positioning. But what if the actual product or services fall short on what is promised in the marketing communications?
CULTURE & VALUES
Creation of a truly succesful brand starts by defining your culture and values and ensuring there are no conflicting statements – for example I know a business that has “accessible” as a brand value, yet staff won’t pick up another persons extension number, are not allowed to access the internet and managers with work mobiles turn them off as soon as they clock off. Somewhat of a dichotomy don’t you think and not exactly living up to brand values?
LEADERSHIP & VISION
A good brand has leadership, vision and objectives – and they are communicated and understood by all concerned. For many this starts with the induction of a new employee and follows right the way through the cycle.Your people are your best asset, treat them well, train them and educate them and they’ll be your best marketers, even if they chose to seek a career elsewhere.
Most branding professionals really try to understand the above before they even attempt to design a logo or a brand identity. Capturing this “brand essence” is crucial to developing the right identity, logo and market positioning.
MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS
All these messages must then follow through consistently in all your external marketing communications including your website, brochures, email, PR and social media. To ensure all of this is effective it is always wise to ensure any marketing activity is carried out to meet defined objectives and planned so that cash is used wisely.
Creation of a successful brand involves carefully balancing all of the above elements and making sure delivery of your product or service at every touch point lives up to your brand promise and meets, or even exceeds customer expectations. This integrated approach will ensure that your marketing promotes your business effectively, generates sales and, more importantly, creates repeat orders and word of mouth recommendations.