Developing the brand strategy is the most concrete and longlasting marketing tool. It’s consistent, repetitive and memorable. It’s communicated in many different ways throughout the life of a business. Done effectively, a brand creates a one-of-a-kind differentiation separating one business from another. Branding builds a relationship.
Branding can be a name, sign, design, symbol or term – or a combination of these –describing the products or services offered. The objective of branding is reinforcing credibility, delivering a clear message, encouraging a sale, improving loyalty and invoking an emotion. All of these combined influence its target audience and becomes the core foundation behind each and every marketing effort.
When developing a brand, a business must consider their target audience, their competition, the products or services offered and what differentiates them from the others in the marketplace. To begin brainstorming an effective brand, consider the following questions within the core business function. It’s useful to develop a strategy with a diverse and creative team of individuals who have a strong understanding of the business function and future objectives.
What products or services are offered?
What are the values and mission of the business?
What is the business specialization?
What is the business tagline or sales message?
Describe the target audience and the segment of population most attracted to the offering. From the answers and again with the creative team, create a personality reflective of the business and offering. Personify the business. What characteristics would it have? Is it male or female, soft or edgy, conservative or groundbreaking, necessary or luxurious, young or mature and so forth. What adjectives describe it?
Next, tie the audience to this character by understanding how the target audience can connect to it. This is where it becomes most critical to understand the audience demographics inside and out. What characteristics grab audience interest? What do they like? What don’t they like?
To compose a brand profile, use the answers to write a description of the business, again personifying the entity. Think of personal ads or biographies as examples of writing style.
Logos are another critical piece in business identity and branding efforts. When developing a logo, be just as specific about the connection between the target audience and the products or services. Answer the following questions:
- Who is the target audience? Depending on the industry, the business may prefer a conservative, classic brand or a progressive, hip design. Creative businesses can use more color, musicians can go unique and financial firms may want to reflect stability.
- Where will the logo appear? Though a business may only need letterhead at start-up, the logo should be simple and clean, adaptable to any size variation, viewable from a lapel pin to a billboard without losing quality. The logo should look strong on a sign, website, print brochure, t-shirt, CDROM, business card and give-away such as pens, magnets, key chains, labels and so forth.
- How will the logo look in monotone reproduction? At some point, the logo will be displayed on a photocopy or fax. Keep it sharp and consistent in duplication.
- Can color stay consistent? If the logo integrates colors, make sure they align with other marketing collateral or website themes they’re used on.
- Does this image reflect longevity? Once a logo is designed, don’t change it. Consistency is critical to branding. In one, ten or even fifty years from now, a business should have a strong image. Inconsistency reflects poorly on both management and quality. If a company can’t stick to a logo, how can it accomplish what it’s hired to do?
Some strong brands and logos include Nike, using a simple swoosh image to communicate freedom, athletics and longevity, Target, reinforcing their color and bulls-eye logo in everything they market and Tiffany and Company, with the signature blue on everything from their packages and boxes to annual reports – crisp, simple, identifiable and consistent.
Using The Brand
The brand is an ongoing, repetitive reinforcement of the credibility, improving loyalty and product or service awareness. Use the brand to improve the position within the competition or reach the business goals. What should the business accomplish and what does it want the customers and prospects to understand about it?
Develop a marketing strategy to take the branding designed into the public or business eye. This strategy may be a short statement or a detailed timeline. Year-to-year, the marketing goals will change: objectives will be met and new ones developed. But the brand remains consistent. This is what customers remember, trust and find comfort in. A business brand becomes who the business is, what it represents and how others perceive it.
Branding uses consistency in print collateral, television advertising, radio and media outlets. It ties into its core business strategy, both internal and external, solidifying in time. Use the same brand, year over year, time after time to build a billboard in the audience’s mind.