Choosing a brand for your company is an ongoing, multi-step process that creates identity and visibility. The purpose is to capture the hearts and minds of a defined target audience and stay connected with them through clear, authentic and consistent messaging. Choosing a brand that remains strong in a competitive, global marketplace requires attention and a commitment of time and resources.
Before a brand becomes a reality, it must evolve from a process of research and discovery. Carefully outline the company’s mission and purpose, core values, goals and objectives, and the key attributes that describe the brand. Create a prioritized list and ensure that each item is clearly defined and aligned with the overall vision for the company.
Once the research and discovery process is completed and the brand is clearly defined, find out what others think and how they see you and your company. Use tools like surveys, assessments, focus group discussions, interviews, and confidential 360 degree feedback that can provide valuable input on the public perception of your brand.
Remember, strong brands live in the hearts and minds of their customers who show brand loyalty as long as your product or service meets their social, emotional, political and economic needs. Clearly define your target audience, get to know them deeply and develop ways to keep them engaged, connected, informed, and periodically rewarded for their support. Grow brand loyalty by adopting customer-centered practices that focus on building relationships founded on respect and trust. Consider a company creed or code of conduct that outlines desired behaviors inside and outside, both in person and online.
Develop a clearly crafted brand message that states the promise your customers can expect you to deliver at all times. This message can be reflected in the tagline, mission statement, ad slogans, web banners, and other print and online messaging. Revisit your brand promise frequently and assess performance with measurable criteria. Fine tune your brand communication as necessary, and be prepared to deliver consistently on your brand promise.
Image matters, and a picture is worth a thousand words. In today’s highly image-conscious, everything digital world, the visual impressions your brand projects to the world is critical for your company’s success. Carefully choose the colors, graphic design and content of your brand collateral items such as logos, memes, brochures, business cards, headshot, websites, videos and social media profiles. Always use a professional or trusted source. Remember that behavior and public perception also shape the optics of your brand.
Choose a brand that represents who you are and what you stand for internally and externally. Above all, be true to your values, goals and dreams, not what your family or friends want you to do. Personal branding guru William Arruda says “strong brands are based in authenticity.” Use the internet to do the background research on similar brands to avoid using similar names, logos, or taglines of companies that are in your same industry. Be authentic. This is the key to brand success. Brands that are inauthentic fade fast in today’s highly competitive, relationship-based marketplace.
There is no excuse for failing to find out who your competitors are and what they are doing. They could be pursuing the same customers as you are, so it is important to differentiate your brand to help you stand out. Take full advantage of the internet to do friendly ‘spying’ to see what your competitors are up to. Look at websites, social media presence, and other branding collateral. Use performance measures to see how your brand stacks up against the competition.
In today’s competitive marketplace, presence pays. Keep your brand out and in front of your customers with clear, relevant, and authentic messaging through inbound and outbound marketing, publicity, events, advertising, and a strong social media presence. With the flood of companies in the market, it takes at least ten to fifteen ”touches” to gain the attention of your desired audience. Create a brand communication plan that incorporates low- and no-cost resources to connect with your audience. Maintain strong visibility and credibility by staying “on-brand” and living your brand promise daily.
Choosing a brand is serious business and should be guided by a well-thought out plan with clearly defined vision and mission statements, goals and objectives. Goals should be time specific and measurable. Implementing your plan will require a budget, so this should be an integral part of the process. Make your plan visible to help ensure accountability. Create a timeline and monitor progress regularly. Make adjustments as necessary. Celebrate successes.
Before you begin the process of choosing a brand, make sure you are prepared to invest the time, energy, human resources, and financing to support your brand for the long haul. Many brands are created each year, but only a few survive.
Choosing a brand is about defining your connection and relationship with a desired target audience. Clarity, authenticity, and consistency in your brand identity and messaging are keys to becoming a strong brand that outshines the competition. To be successful, choose a brand that reflects your goals and values and connects emotionally with the target audience while continuing to deliver on the stated promise. The process must begin with a plan and requires ongoing commitment of resources to remain viable and vibrant.
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