People in marketing used to talk about products and services having recognizable “brand names.” Then we realized “brand” referred to something broader than just the company or product names. Advertising guru David Ogilvy started talking about your “brand” as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.”
Over time, marketers caught on that they could create a specific perception about the qualities and attributes of a brand. This total perception that customers have about your company, products and services became “the brand.” It is this definition of brand that is the feelings, pictures and ideas that pop into mind when someone hears your brand name.
Influencing Your Brand for Greater Brand Influence of Your Ideal Clients
Brand marketers know you can have a tremendous amount of influence on what people know and think about your business and its brand name products. Here are some key points to keep in mind as you build your brand.
- Brand is developed by what you show and tell people about your business, and also created by the whole of everything they see you do as a company.
- None of this matters if you don’t stand out. If your brand is just like someone else’s brand, that spot in the market is claimed. In the customer’s mind, and you will not easily capture that customer’s attention.
- Your best way forward is to stand out for something unique, so that when people think of your brand, they expect and do see something special and unique to you.
Coming Up with a Successful Brand Strategy
If you are building business-to-business (B2B) brand strategies for the first time, or you want to rebrand, let me repeat this foundational truth: The first thing to know is that your brand is not your company name, your product, your logo, or your website. Your brand is intangible and much more than that! It is the all-encompassing feeling people have about your business as a whole.
Your successful strategy will create or generate a unique feeling from your target market about who you are and what you do. This magic is what separates a stellar brand from the hordes of “me-too” copycats. Many companies, too fearful of how they might be perceived, fail to take the risk to stand for something distinctive. In their effort to be safe, they come across as just another mediocre also-ran. Remember the caveat, “Be yourself since everyone else has been taken.” If you play it safe and try to appeal to everyone, you won’t stand out and appeal to anyone.
Branding is more art and less science. Before you can delve into creating your marketing and sales communication plans or create your marketing collateral, you need to create a brand strategy, describing what your company stands for and how it should be perceived. This is the hard work that gives rise to the magic of branding. Everything you build, everything you say and do as a company, needs to be consistent with your brand strategy.
The process of your brand strategy will be determined in part by your timeline and budget. Some companies spend a lot of time and money on research to understand the market and competition. They want to make sure they understand the best opportunities and know their target audience’s needs and mindset inside and out. They aren’t basing strategy on opinion or assumptions.
Other companies want to get to market quickly to test the waters or they simply don’t have the time or budget for extensive research. These companies jump in, come up with a name, logo, elevator pitch and website. They’ll figure out the rest as they go along.
But you don’t have to be all or nothing about developing a brand strategy. Experience has taught me that incorporating even a little research and thought into your business at the front end can save you money and headaches down the line.
Developing Your Brand Statement
To start with, you must get very clear on exactly who you serve and what exactly they need. You need to identify your niche. Only then can you know their major obstacles to getting their needs met and how your product or company is uniquely positioned to help them solve their problem.
When you understand your customer, you can create a simple, direct marketing message showing your empathy with their plight and demonstrating how your specific expertise can help them get resolution.
In a concise and straight-forward manner, you should explain how you will help them achieve success. You want to direct your target client to take a specific next step to work with you and get the results they want.
You can describe to them in words or images what they will experience if they go with your products and services, while gently inferring what will happen if they don’t.
Take these concepts and hammer on them in your marketing copy until the message you send out is like music with every note crystal clear. You want to use simple language that anyone could understand.
Congratulations, because you now have a killer brand statement that will inform the messaging in all of marketing materials.
Developing your Brand Personality or Attributes
To further develop the picture of your brand, as well as all of your marketing collateral, you need to understand its underlying emotional associations—your brand’s attributes. You know how Apple is seen as young and cool, while PC is older and stodgy? The answer has to do with developing your brand personality or attributes.
Think of a brand’s personality as a set of human characteristics associated with the name of a product, service or company. Another basic way to think of your brand’s personality attributes is as brand adjectives.
These elements of brand marketing are essential to support what you do, who you are and what you need to communicate to your ideal clients. You developed the company or product and this information presumably already lives in your brain. You can’t just turn over this part of defining your brand to a consultant or web designer without playing a major part in the process. Otherwise your brand won’t reflect what you know and feel about it.
How to Get Started?
I created a Free eBook that includes some exercises for developing your brand statement and brand personality. Taking the tine to thoughtfully work through them will help you embrace the branding process and get the great return on investment that it promises and delivers.
Since your actions will create and maintain your brand, from your logo design, to how you answer the phones, I have included Brand and Online Asset Audit Sheets to help make sure each element of your business is on target with presenting a consistent message and face to the world.