Your corporate brand is, more than anything else, the most significant thing which will define you in the public eye, and therefore the one which will help to ensure your success – or your demise. A strong brand image and name will boost confidence throughout the business, and create a strong, successful impression in the market. So what aspects of your business or product should you bear in mind if you are considering either a rebranding opportunity, or perhaps creating a corporate brand from scratch for a new business?
One of the first things that should be considered is longevity. There is no gain at all to be had from planning a branding strategy for the immediate future only. With a short-term brand image, you will be losing out on one of the most significant aspects of branding, and that is the benefit which can be gained from having a brand that lasts, that survives the storms and comes out floating beautifully, if you’ll pardon the metaphor.
Most brand images only tend to be truly successful once they have been weathered a bit. A new name, a new logo, a new image might attract some attention initially simply because of its novelty. However, novelty, like fashion, becomes tired and yesterday’s news. What comes after novelty? Not a great deal, unless you’ve planned for the longer journey. Plan your corporate brand with a view to making it last beyond the immediate future, and see it as a means of taking your business well into the future.
Another aspect of a corporate branding strategy which should be considered very seriously is consistency. People appreciate a brand image that is consistent wherever that business happens to be featured. This includes everything from your letter headed notepaper to your storefront, from your portfolio leaflets to your website, and from your business card to your trade show stands.
What is the best known brand world-wide? It involves yellow arches – that is all that is needed for the name to jump into your mind. The branding is ubiquitous, which exemplifies the need for consistency, and which also emphasises the importance of design. A brand logo should be as suitable to be printed on letter headings as for visibility on a large scale, such as from motorways or from the air.
This means, if you are considering your brand image from a starting position that you need to think carefully about what will work across all of the advertising media and yet not look out of place at the entrance to your office building. This can be quite difficult, since what works well in one form doesn’t always translate well to others.
Consider a website for example, where your banner image can be 800 pixels wide, and a couple of hundred or more high – plenty of room for a long name, a long slogan and a few images. But what of your business cards? Can you achieve the same impact and immediate brand recognition within a space just a few centimeters square?
A good plan when it comes to creating a successful corporate brand is to consider not only the market place, but also your competitors. What makes your competitors’ brand images stand out? What is it about their brand image, brand name, logo or color theme which gets them remembered? Think about the slogans or tag lines they use, and how these are perceived by customers.
Of course, this is not so that you can copy the ideas or principles, attempting to piggy-back on the success of other businesses. There are very few examples where this works at all, let alone successfully. However, having an understanding of what is already out there in the marketplace, working successfully, gives you a much better idea, not only of what you are up against, but of how you can stand out against it.
What is it that makes your business different? You will undoubtedly have an edge of one kind or another. If you are much smaller than your competition, then you can be more personal. If you are much bigger, you’re likely to be more competitive. If you are a merger of companies, you have more breadth to your experience, and if you are new then you can offer a breath of fresh air and a novel approach.
Once you understand the edge that your business has over other businesses, and understand not only what makes your business stand out, but also what you would like your business to be known for, then you can start to perceive ways in which that can be communicated and expressed through your corporate brand image.
A successful brand image will be one which is remembered easily, is recognized quickly and which has something to say, says it succinctly and says it effectively. It is not often successful if it makes people think for too long, tries to be too clever, denigrates the competition or is too easily dated. Try to avoid these clichés and you are already likely to be sailing on waters more likely to see you heading out for a successful, long voyage.
Ultimately, once you have chosen your corporate brand you will need to promote it, back it, and ensure that all of your employees and representatives support it, which they are more likely to do if they believe in it and are confident with it.
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