What is Your Brand?
To put it simply—the brand provides a foundation that is reinforced in everything that an organization does. This foundation must be built on truth and what your business can deliver to its constituencies.
The brand reflects core values, attributes, deliverable outcomes. It is your identity—the first and last impression that each of your business and marketing tactics communicates to the world.
The singular goal of an effective branding initiative is to accurately capture the mission, vision and values of an organization as it relates to—and entrusts—key audiences. The brand is the organization’s emotional connection to its publics.
As a true believer in the power of distinguishable branding, I have preached to numerous audiences about the importance of accurately and effectively creating and living the brand. From small entrepreneurial ventures to large public institutions, the principles remain the same—the brand identifies and distinguishes your product, service or business from any others in the market.
Phases of a successful branding initiative
To develop the strategies necessary to brand your business, there are a number of phases, or steps, that need to be taken so that the desired outcomes are accomplished.
Below is a schematic that can help you in thoughtfully developing and implementing your brand.
Research and positioning
Research and analysis: To successfully brand an organization, due diligence must be taken in thoroughly understanding the consumers who will ultimately decide the brand’s success or failure.
Valid research and considerable, thoughtful analysis must precede the branding initiative. It is the foundation by which the business will build its brand so that a personal connection is made in the hearts and minds of its customers and other key audiences.
This phase can involve both quantitative and qualitative research, such as consumer surveys, focus groups, SWOT analysis and market research.
Positioning: The position statement is a focused and specific directive of the organization’s place in the market. It identifies the target customers, their problem, the organization’s value proposition and key competitors.
The positioning statement—solely intended for the business’ internal audiences—does not need to be long or complex. In fact, the easier it is to remember, the easier it is to live.
Identity and creative development
Identity development: The identity plan helps define the organization’s face, personality and all things its audiences connect to the business. With the positioning statement as its base, the identity plan outlines audiences, goals, tone and personality, and key messages/triggers.
Audiences: Knowing who the brand connects with is imperative to business success in the competitive market. While staying true to its positioning statement, a business must make an emotional connection with each audience using key messages and triggers for each.
Goals: To accurately determine brand success, it is important that your business establish goals that are meaningful and measurable. These indicators of success will help refine the brand and invest its resources in those strategies that help grow the brand.
Tone and personality: Your business, like all brands, has character that must be meaningful to its audiences. From its daily interactions and business decisions to its marketing and advertising messages, the business should honestly and consistently reflect its tone and personality.
Key messages/triggers: Based on research and discussions with its targeted audience, the business needs to develop key messages that trigger a response from the market. Similar to tone and personality, key messages should be incorporated into everything the business distributes and communicates. Through repetition and consistency, the messages continually hit their targets and help accomplish brand goals.
Market strategy and launch: With its positioning and identity plan in place, the business can now begin to formulate its market strategy and corresponding launch plan. The market strategy is the path the business will take to achieve its position in the market.
Creative development: While many business owners want to see the advertisements and brochures first, this step actually takes place well into the branding process. The creative designs become a natural outflow of tone and personality, embrace key messages and triggers, and empower the market strategies prior to launch.
Your brand is your face to the world, and the special connection that only you and your business can have with your customers. In the end, successful businesses are those who know and own their brand. They go the extra mile every day to guarantee their brand meets—and exceeds—their customers’ needs and expectations.
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Lorri Rishar Jandron is president & CEO of Edge Partnerships, a full-service agency specializing in strategic marketing, distinguishable branding, bold public relations, assertive advertising and effective advocacy.