A company’s brand is a short but comprehensive embodiment of everything the company stands for. When consumers see the “Swoosh,” they immediately connect it with not only the Nike company, but with everything the Nike brand has to offer. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. Great branding separates a company from competition and creates brand identity/recognition with consumers. Your brand is like your signature, it is used to identify yourself, your work, and assures customers that your product lives up to your standards.
On a recent trip to Miami, a friend of mine asked me to assist him with branding his new art collective and design firm. Working on his project inspired me to come up with 5 solid concepts that others could use to build their own brand. Here are the top 5 things DASH feels a client should take into consideration when embarking on the brand building process:
1) Identify Your Target Audience
Your brand’s “target audience” is the specific group who your product or service is trying to reach. In order to reach this group you need to first figure out who they are. Ask yourself these questions: “who would buy my products?,” “who currently buys my products?,” “where does this group shop at or frequent?,” “what other interests do they have and how can you best cater to these interests?.” Your brand can’t be all things to all people. However, your brand identity should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.
2) Create An Identity
The key to successful branding is building an identity. Now that you’ve recognized your target audience, the next step is defining who you are. Discuss with partners and employees your brand’s core values. Ask customers what keywords or values they associate with your company’s services. These values need to be present in everything that you do from here on out in order to transmit a cohesive image. Your brand must reflect what your customers and employees think about your business to have any credibility. For example, if being friendly is one of your brand values, make sure anyone who answers the telephone or has direct contact with customers is friendly.
The 1998-2003 rebranding of Apple Inc. from Apple Computers is a perfect example of identity creation. Apple decided to reject previous rainbow colored images of itself in favor of a more refined logo that is today’s monochrome glass Apple logo. The company did away with multi-colored devices and developed sleeker, single-colored computers that appealed more to the middle-aged, tech-savvy crowd that purchased their products.
3) Discover Your Competitive Advantage
A brand’s competitive advantage is it’s unique offerings that differentiate it from similar offerings in the marketplace. What makes your brand unique? Identify and isolate the things that make you better than your competition. This will allow you to maximize these characteristics moving forward, easily conveying them to consumers. Make sure your company literature reflects your brand values.
4) Set Brand Goals And Plan Accordingly
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail,” -Winston Churchill. This is true for embarking on building your brand. List the objectives you want to achieve with the brand and most importantly, achieve them! An effective brand knows what it wants, how it wants to achieve that, and when it will have these objectives completed. Your brand strategy should be inline with your general business plan. Opting out of setting your goals for moving forward leaves your brand vulnerable to loosing its purpose. Once your image has been created, following some simple rules should ensure its continued effectiveness. Always think about what your business achieves for your customers and structure your business to achieve it effectively and continuously.
5) Be Relevant and Flexible
A well managed brand is always making adjustments. Branding is a process, not a race, so expect to constantly tweak your message and refresh your image. If your old tactics aren’t working anymore, don’t be afraid to change them just because it worked in the past. Take the opportunity to engage your followers in fresh, new ways. Look at Old Spice, around since the 1930s, but still relevant and finding new ways to present itself. Over the past few years, Old Spice has managed to create quite a buzz with their new ads (which are hilarious)! In this fast-changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. Use new strategies to connect with new customers and remind your old ones why they love you.