I‘ve been marketing for more than half of my life. I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.
I’ve conducted research, trained staff, developed and positioned new products, opened new locations, improved sales processes, crafted ad campaigns, defined target segments, engaged in social media, secured earned media and measured success … and the entire time, I was BRANDING!
If you have never conducted a full-blown branding exercise, I highly recommend that you consider it.
You never really know who you are until you’ve:
- Conducted competitive evaluations
- Talked to your customers
- Talked to your non-customers
- Talked to your management and staff
- Talked to other stakeholders ad influencers
- Analyzed your market(s)
- Analyzed your current customer locations compared to your branches
- Reviewed your relevant business trends
You never really know what you can be until you:
- Know how to differentiate yourself
- Know what the market needs and wants
- Understand the messaging in the market
- Know where there are opportunity gaps
- Know what you do best
- Know where you need improvement
You should be able to easily define your:
Brand Essence: This is the soul of the brand – the central meaning behind who and what you are and how you act. Think, “Magic,” for Disney.
Positioning: The space you will seek to own in the hearts and minds of your customers. This is an internal statement that provides inspiration for product development, marketing communication, and staff hiring and training.
Brand Expression or “Personality”: The human characteristics that embody the brand, setting the tone for the attitude of the brand. If your company were a person, what would it be like?
Brand Promise: The ultimate goal is to use detailed strategic research and analysis to identify a Brand Promise. This promise will drive every management decision and staff interaction moving forward.
I’m not going to lie, to properly define a brand, you’re going to need to open your checkbook and make sure your pen has a lot of ink. To craft a brand that is steeped in data analytics and that is scientifically relevant to your market, you will need to conduct and decipher high-value research. It takes time, it takes expertise and it takes money.
But then again, EVERYTHING you do is branding.
At the bare minimum, you should be continuously collecting data and analyzing your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Every marketer knows how to conduct a S.W.O.T. analysis, but few actually do it on a regular basis.
Based on the data you have, what is the one thing that best differentiates you in your markets? The “one thing” should be tangible. It should speak to what your prospects want. It should be something that you do better or different than the competition. It should be the answer to your prospective customer’s question of, “So what?”
Finally, if you don’t define who you are, your customers will come up with their own definition. You need to control the perception.
Understand what you do best and where you are lacking. Honestly ask yourself what your company would be like if it were a person. Get a variety of opinions. Would you be: Optimistic? Old fashioned? Grumpy? Cutting edge? Would you dress up and be laid back? Would you be funny or ultra-professional?
When you think you have the definition, ask yourself:
- Is this who you want to be?
- Is this who your customers want?
- Does it make you different … in a good way?
- How much of your staff does NOT fit this personality?
- Does your current marketing speak in this voice?
When you’ve detailed your S.W.O.T, differentiated yourself and understand your true personality, you have the foundation of a brand.
Then, all you have to do is:
- Communicate it to the team
- Speak in its voice
- Hire and train to it
- Live it
- Be consistent with it
The next thing you’ll know, you have a Brand on a Budget.