Three Steps to a Stronger, More Effective Brand
By Mark Wardell @MarkWardell | December 4, 2014
Your brand is not just your logo. It’s how you represent your business to your prospects and your customers. Your brand is the character, the constitution, even the soul of your company. It’s the impression you make with every customer interaction online and off. While it's your marketing department's responsibility to position and entrench your brand in the minds of your target market, it’s your responsibility, as the leadership, to develop and safeguard your brand at large. Here’s how:
In developing a stronger, more effective brand, your first step is to get clear on what exactly your ‘brand’ is.
Your brand is a living essence found in the overall impression that your audience has of your business. It’s what people expect of your business as a result of what you actually deliver versus what you say you deliver. For example, half of the sushi restaurants in Vancouver claim to be ‘Vancouver’s best sushi” but that really isn’t true, and after trial and error only a handful live up to that brand.
When you boil it down, there are three steps you can take to achieve a stronger, more effective brand.
Step one: Clear, consistent messaging across all platforms.
Your promotional efforts must position your brand as clearly and directly as possible to your target market. Any deviation in your messaging will have the effect of a broken promise. After all, what is a promotional campaign but a promise of something good to come, if only your prospect will buy your product or engage your service?
So, whatever you’re selling, you need to find a way - or possibly set of ways - to communicate what you offer and what you stand for as clearly as possible. And, of course, you need to actually deliver on that promise.
A good example is Mountain Equipment Co-op. All of MEC’s advertising, packaging, marketing campaigns, customer service and online presence depict the company as an earth-friendly, quality, wholesome place to shop; a place that cares about people and the environment. As a result of this consistency, they have a strong identity in the marketplace and a loyal following.
Step two: A rock solid market position.
When it comes to your brand, your goal is to absolutely dominate your market position in the minds of your prospects and customers. Your target market must recognize you as a primary trusted resource in your area of specialty.
Contrary to popular belief, this does not necessarily require a mass marketing approach with a gigantic budget. It does if your brand is Coca-Cola ® or Kleenex ®, but these brands have equally gigantic target markets. By carefully targeting your promotional efforts, you can have a similar type of impact on your particular target market without breaking the bank. We’ve seen many small companies do this successfully and grow into much bigger enterprises as a result (Kin’s Farm Market and Toms Shoes are great national and international examples, respectively.)
Once you have settled on a market position, you'll want to focus your entire company on it. After all, branding is not just something done by your marketing department; it's a way of doing business.
Step three: Everything in your business must support your market position.
Yes, I mean everything. Backing up your messaging with what you do every day is the most important part of branding. It's no good to position your business as the leader in quality and then use regular photocopies for your brochure. Or to say you have the best customer service, only for people to quickly find that’s not true. When customers see conflicting messages in a business, they get turned off and go elsewhere.
Every time your prospects come into contact with your business they have an experience. It may be subtle but it will always be there. The result, over time, is a strong, almost unbreakable opinion about your business in the minds of your prospects. The success of your branding strategy lies in its ability to positively influence those opinion-forming experiences.
Take some time to develop a carefully mapped out branding strategy, following the three steps above, and ensure it translates across your entire business. I guarantee you’ll see more customers, and increasingly loyal customers, return for years to come.