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Crafting Your Brand

[ 0 ] Jan. 7, 2013 | SBO Editor

How to build your business with a carefully shaped brand.

By David Melnick

The best advice that can be given to a company that wants to rebrand is to hire an expert to assist with the initiative. Rebranding can be a time-consuming and difficult process that can distract from your primary duties of running your business. The right branding partner will help you work through the steps efficiently, collecting all of the necessary input from both your team and external resources before collaborating for a final solution. If, however, you do not have the time or resources to work with a branding expert, here are six tips to help you craft your brand.

Define your audience

Many brands hope to reach a range of target audiences. By trying to be all things to all people, it is easy to create confusion in your brand messaging while failing to tell consumers who you really are.

Successful brands are able to identify the key factors such as behaviors, attitudes, activities or personality traits that connect all their target audiences.

Define your “ideal customer,” i.e., the one(s) who will be most likely to purchase your product or service and then influence their friends and colleagues to do the same.

Understand how your product or service fits in with your target audience’s lifestyle and “fills a need.”

Learn what your
competitors are saying

The most successful brands are unique. They define themselves in ways that differentiate their product/service/experience from their competitors.

Review how your competitors communicate in marketing materials, on their website, and in social media. Print out all of your competitors’ communications and pin them to a board (one for each competitor) to get a snapshot of what you are up against.

Pretend to be a customer and call on your competitors. See what the experience is like, how they sell their brand and how well it matches their communications.

Complete a SWOT analysis

Before you can tell the world who your brand is, you must first understand it yourself. Conduct a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis to identify your strengths and weaknesses so you can find the greatest opportunity for growth.

Ask for input from your team and customers to ensure an accurate assessment.

Put all the input and observations on paper and hang it on the wall. This will force you to be honest with yourself.

Compare your self-analysis to the boards you prepared about your competitors. This will help identify how to best differentiate your brand.

Recognize that a brand
is more than your ads.

A brand is a promise to your customers, your employees and even yourself. That promise must be promoted through strategic, consistent communications, and delivered to satisfy each constituent, building loyalty and referrals.

Marketing efforts, such as ads or your website, will most likely be the first interaction that consumers have with your brand and will thus set the brand tone. Be aware, however, that the totality of your brand is much broader.

The way you greet a customer, the way you answer your phone, the marketing materials within your location – in short, every communications channel between you and your customer – all must convey your brand promise. At the same time, every experience and service that you provide before, during and after each interaction must deliver on the brand promise that your communications convey.

If you cannot deliver on your brand promise, you must redefine your brand so that it is believable and achievable.

Define your brand in two words.

Once you identify what makes you different, write a sentence that defines your brand, what you want it to be and whom you want to reach with your message.

Then boil it down even further. Try to identify two words that, when used together, define what your brand stands for. For instance, a brand like Apple might be “Innovation and Simplicity” while Under Armour might be “Performance and Passion.”

Identifying these two words will make it easier for you to communicate to others succinctly and effectively why you are unique and will help you maintain focus as you develop your brand and communications plan.

Execute with consistency.

Consistency is a critical component of successful execution. It helps define the brand visually and tonally. The more that potential customers see and hear the same message delivered in the same way, the more memorable it becomes, amplifying both the power and reach of your brand.

A Brand Standards Guidelines document will help ensure strict adherence to the images and messages you establish to communicate your brand position. It should precisely identify your brand colors, logo and fonts and describe how, when and where to use them. The brand guidelines should also document the tone of voice for headlines, copy, social media posts (are you sarcastic, confident, playful, aggressive or flowery, etc.).

The type of imagery that can be used should also be explained in the Brand Standards Guidelines. Are people always looking directly at the camera or never looking at the camera? Do you always feature more than one person? Is there a particular photographic or illustrative style that helps illustrate the tone of your brand? Are there key brand elements that will always be incorporated into marketing pieces? The more specifics that you set forth, the more your branding will become distinctive, recognizable and memorable.

Periodically collect all of your marketing materials and place them on the table to make sure that you are achieving the consistency needed to properly deliver your brand.

David Melnick is Vice President/Director of Account Management at Siquis Ltd., a Baltimore-based integrated marketing firm specializing in strategic development, brand positioning and campaign management. For more information, contact 410-323-4800, ext. 133 or david.melnick@siquis.com.

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Category: Magazine, Start Your Own Business, Start Your Own Business Spring 2013