Your brand is one of your most valuable assets. It conveys the highest value you deliver; serves as an emotional shortcut to what your organization stands for; sets you apart from everyone else in your marketplace; and forms the foundation of a smart marketing strategy.
How do you build a great brand? Here are 10 key steps.
1. Audit your marketing and communications to evaluate your current brand identity.
– Study all customer communications and marketing materials.
– Determine the messages you are delivering about your company and your products and services in every marketing channel.
– Pay closest attention to the in-person customer experience-how customers feel when they interact with a member of your staff.
2. Determine how your customers see you – their perceptions of your organization and your brand and what they value most about you.
– Talk to customers, prospects, the sales team, and the customer service representatives who work with customers every day.
– Try to see your company’s strengths and weaknesses through independent eyes. Be brutally honest.
3. Pinpoint the unique value your organization – and only your organization – delivers to customers.
– Determine what you do better than any competitor.
– Focus on the benefits you offer and the ways you improve customers’ lives.
4. Identify and capitalize on your natural branding advantages, such as:
– An established reputation for excellence;
– Superior technology or product capabilities;
– A new company direction or the launch of a major new product line that creates an opportunity to reposition your company to customers or prospects;
– Endorsements by recognized authorities in your marketplace.
5. Decide what you want your brand to stand for – the attributes you want customers to associate with your brand.
– Determine the expectations prospects and customers should have of your brand every time they encounter it.
– Clarify the brand’s “persona” or point of view.
6. Create a graphic identity that establishes a distinct logo and look for your organization, differentiates you from every other resource, and visually communicates your brand attributes.
7. Create a short, memorable positioning tagline that succinctly conveys the most important benefit, advantage, or distinction you offer in the marketplace.
8. Develop core marketing messages that capitalize on your strengths and become the copy foundation for all your marketing materials – the “proof points” that support your brand promise.
9. Develop and distribute guidelines for using the brand and graphic identity across all marketing materials and customer communications.
10. Deploy the brand:
– Make a splash in the marketplace with your new brand by launching a highly visible marketing campaign in multiple media to showcase your new identity.
– Apply your new branding guidelines consistently to marketing communications in all media (advertising, print materials, web marketing, direct mail, e-mail, retail point-of-purchase displays, trade shows, product shipments, etc.).
– Remember that the way your customers are treated is the most important element of your branding strategy. Train every member of your staff to understand your brand and deliver on your brand promise with every customer interaction.
Jean M. Gianfagna is an experienced marketing strategist, a direct marketing expert, and the founder and President of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing, Inc. a consulting firm in Cleveland, Ohio that provides marketing strategy and creative services to leading business-to-business and consumer marketers. Jean’s blog, Smart Marketing Strategy, can be found at http://www.gianfagnamarketing.com/blog.
Jean has been creating and implementing successful, integrated marketing communications plans and targeted marketing programs for more than 30 years. She founded Gianfagna Strategic Marketing in 1992 after holding high-level advertising and marketing management positions in Washington, DC.
Jean is a frequent speaker on developing targeted marketing strategies and campaigns. She has taught advertising, branding, direct marketing, marketing strategy, and marketing communications at several universities and professional conferences and authored articles on effective direct marketing techniques in national marketing publications.