Brand and Brand Strategy

This month we are going to be talking about branding and working towards tightening our own.

 

So what do we mean when we say brand? it’s much more involved than a simple definition, but if i must! It’s the process of creating a unique name and image for your company. We do this primarily through consistent themes throughout your marketing. You are aiming to establish a significant and unique presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.

 

And that's where brand strategy comes in! You should be thinking long-term when you consider your brand. Brands are not built overnight. It is a long-term plan for developing a successful brand in order to achieve your goals. Let's just get this out of the way, your brand is NOT your product, your logo, your website or your company name! A brand is much more than that-it's not something tangible. And it's that intangible feeling that creates powerhouse brands that stand out from the less-developed brands.

 

Now let's talk components to brand strategy and how you can create a brand that is strong and long-lasting.

 

VISION/PURPOSE

 

You need more than just a promise, you need a purpose to build trust and confidence with your consumers. You should know your business promise, but you should also know WHY you wake up everyday to go to work. Your WHY is what really separates you from competitors.  It's this vision that gives your company a real purpose that customers will be drawn to.

 

Think about beyond profit, of course your goal is to make money, but you should also have something you are trying to achieve beyond that. 

 

Let's look at an example. Ikea’s vision is to ‘create a better everyday life’. This goes beyond just selling furniture. THIS is what will appeal to your customers.

 

When defining your own purpose, dig deeper than money. 

 

Click here for some inspiring examples.

 

CONSISTENCY

 

Avoid things that don’t enhance your brand. That’s the boiled down version of this anyway. Consider everything you do and assess if it aligns with your message. What you share with your audience needs to be cohesive. This will help create brand recognition, which is what fuels customer loyalty.

 

Think about the most recognizable brands in the world. they don’t stray from their message. Everything works together beautifully. They do not put anything out there that is confusing or ‘off brand’. 

 

What helps in creating consistency is creating a style guide for yourself. This can cover the tone of your business voice, the color schemes you’ll use, and more. Next week we are going to discuss style guides and you will all be making your own.

 

We will also be going over business voice in two weeks, in which you will learn how to consistently communicate with your audience.

 

FLEXIBLITY

 

You may be thinking, "Wait a minute, how am I supposed to remain consistent while also being flexible?"

 

That's totally fair to ask! While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition. 

 

So we need to leave some flexibility in your brand. Goals change over time, so it's reasonable to assume that your company's goals and brand goals may change over time. You may also find that old tactics you employed, are no longer working. You have to accept change at that point, and try something new. Just because it worked in the past, does not mean it's working now.

 

At the end of this month we are going to cover this tricky subject and I'll offer some advice as to how to redefine and already established brand.

 

COMMUNITY

 

Customers want to be a part of something. People like to belong to tribes. Why else would they choose the option that is substantially more expensive? It's usually to feel like they belong in the club.

 

Brands that creates community around their brand tend to create an extremely loyal customer base. This gives customers the chance to feel as if they’re part of a more tight-knit circle. People want to build relationships. There is a psychological need to feel closely connected to others. Consider Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, belonging is a basic human need!

 

The lesson to be learned? Find a way to connect to your customers on a deeper, more emotional level. Do you give them peace of mind? Make them feel like part of the family? Do you make life easier? Use emotional triggers like these to strengthen your relationship and foster loyalty.  You can also use social responsibility to foster and create a community surrounding your brand. For instance, do you practice sustainability in your business? Focus on the green movement and use that to grow your community!

 

LOYALTY

 

This is a pretty simple concept. Reward those that already love you, your company and your brand! Cultivate that loyalty early on-this will encourage repeat customers and increase your profits. It's totally true, far cheaper to retain existing customers than market to new customers!

 

You are probably already thanking them, which is a great start. But let’s go beyond that. Personalized letters, special swag, gift with purchase, referral program, ask for a review in which you feature them on your site! Also find and create opportunities to celebrate with your customers!

 

You want to highlight a positive relationship between you and existing customers. This will set the tone for what potential customers can expect if they choose to do business with you.

 

COMPETITIVE AWARENESS

 

You should be looking at competition as a challenge to improve your own strategy/brand and add more value to your own brand.  You are in same business and going after same customer, right? So pay attention to what they do. Notice what does and does not work for them.

 

I want to quickly note, this does not mean that their every move dictates yours. Your brand needs to remain unique, and being reactive to the competition will actually make you lose your edge. Observe the competition, make your notes, and get out. Now focus on your brand, implement some of what you have learned from competitors, and make sure you are staying true to your own unique voice.

 

Important questions to consider: 

 

  • What does your brand bring to the table that consumers either cannot get from other brands or cannot get as well from other brands?
  • What is the unique selling point for your brand? 

 

I realize this is a whole lot to digest. So take some time considering these things.  Later this week we will be having a group discussion to help one another define our brands. 

 

AprilGrace Gulley