Branding is the essential foundation for your business.
Congratulations! You have a brand! Or do you? Company logo—check. Tagline—check. Online banners—check.
But brand goes well beyond the logo and tagline:
- Do you have the clear and relevant messages that connect with your audience?
- Is the brand being distributed consistently throughout the company?
- Is the customer service in place to “deliver on brand”?
As you build a strong brand, you’ll build brand equity which adds value to your company and results in higher sales.
Your shiny new brand (or rebrand) could be costing money because you’ve not woven your brand solidly throughout the various areas of the company. So what can you do about it?
Follow these 5 steps to create the brand that’s more likely to make money instead of costing you business.
#1 – Connect to the Why of Your Brand.
For successful brands, the Why goes beyond making a profit. It’s the reason you do what you do. Is it to connect to a cause? Make the lives of our customers easier? Deliver an important message of hope to your marketplace?
What is the Why of your brand?
For Tom’s Shoes, it’s ensuring needy children aren’t without footwear. For Apple, it’s delivering products that fulfill a consumer need for innovation and style.
Simon Sinek in “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” writes the Why is “the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do.”
Once you can clearly identify your company’s Why, it’s easy to find the Who and align with the right audience.
To help you identify your unique Why, answer these questions:
- Why are we in business (beyond to make a profit)?
- What does our company stand for?
- Why do we serve our customers?
- Is there a cause we can get behind that matters to us?
You cannot effectively serve everyone. Identify and serve your target market. Your core audience is drawn to your messages because a good, solid brand helps your ideal clients find you.
#2 – Develop and Understand Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP).
What makes your company unique, different, and special? That’s your Unique Value Proposition.
Back in the 1920’s when Proctor and Gamble (P&G) introduced the concept of brand management, it was all about different P&G products targeting different consumers with a different set of benefits.
The company could house competing brands, with each one marketed solid with a UVP. That’s why Tide was—and still is—marketed differently than Gain or Downey. A successful UVP had to possess a unique benefit which was communicated clearly. And it had to be distinguishable from the competition.
Today, this holds true. No matter the size of your company, your products and services must communicate uniqueness from the competition.
And if you don’t know how you are different from your competition, how can you expect your consumers to know?
Develop a powerful UVP and be clear about what you wish your customers and prospects to know about your brand. A good example of a clear UVP comes from Legal Shield: “Worry Less. Live More.”
If you’ve ever shopped online at Zappos or talked to a Zappos customer service representative, you may understand the company’s UVP: Delivering Wow Service. It’s become a strong branding aspect for the company. Tony Hsieh, CEO of the company, even wrote a book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.
Employees know and understand the company’s uniqueness and how their individual jobs connect to that UVP and the larger vision of the company.
#3 – Know Your Audience and Develop the Right Messages.
Who has the greatest potential for purchasing your product or service? What do they need? What do they value?
True knowledge of your customers’ and prospects’ desires come from exploring how they think and feel in various life situations, such as weekend family time, doing homework, reviewing finances, or shopping at the grocery store.
What motivates them to purchase your category of product or service? What problem or pain are they seeking to solve?
Once you’ve gained this knowledge, along with identifying how your company is unique, you’re now able to articulate your messages clearly through all marketing assets.
No more are messages unclear, unfocused, reactive, or fuzzy. Now your audience understands what sets your company apart – and what the company stands for. For instance, Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign speaks to courage, doing something different, and pressing toward ones’ goals. All Nike marketing messages, across various media, consistently speak to and build on Nike’s previous “Just Do It” message.
#4 – Develop Marketing that Creates Connection.
Create positive associations between your brand and your target audience. Document these and use in your marketing. Introduce videos and graphics that create an emotional connection with your ideal audience. Companies like Walt Disney, McDonalds, Nike, Apple do this well. What are the feelings you feel and thoughts you think when you interact with these brands?
Create stories that deliver your branded message. Incorporate messages that are backed by the emotions your audience resonates with. These could include how an employee provided that stellar service at check-out or even how your company offers extra time off to employees for volunteering with their favorite charity.
When your company stands out in the marketplace with a strong brand, it develops significant brand equity–the actual value associated with the company’s products and services. Your target audience chooses your products and services over the competition.
According to Aswath Damodaran, professor of finance at NYU’s Stern School of Business, a brand’s value equates to the ability to price products and services at a premium. Brand name value is the “most sustainable competitive advantage known to business.” For Coca-Cola, founded in 1886, branding accounts for 80% of its value. The cola’s marketing continues to evoke emotions of happiness, love and connection with marketing depicting people engaging and having fun—with each other and with Coke machines. Case in point: “Taste the Feeling” and “Hug Me” campaigns.
Need help? Request our Brand Rating Checklist and take your brand to the next level. Contact us today: firstname.lastname@example.org
#5 – Ensure that Company Team Members Buy into the Brand.
A recent Gallup study (Few Employees Believe in Their Company’s Values) revealed that “just 23% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization’s values to their work every day, according to Gallup, and only 27% strongly agree that they “believe in” their organization’s values.”
Your employees must serve as brand ambassadors. But they must first understand how your company stands out in the marketplace and how their specific role is tie to the company’s Mission, Vision, and Values.
This costs your company money.
Why? Because this uncertainty gets communicated to your customers, who then become confused. And the confused consumer does not buy.
In 2013 American Airlines did just that – confused the consumer after its roll-out of a rebrand. New planes, new logo, and new marketing made promises of “serving you better.” But the cosmetic branding updates did nothing to translate to actuals service improvements. Customers experienced the same service frustrations.
Lesson learned: Can your employees connect their on-the-job activities to that of your shiny new brand? Do they “deliver on brand”? If not, it’s time to evaluate, train, and train some more.
Your brand must be integrated into every aspect of your business—from how your sales representatives deliver service, to your social media messages, and even how you answer the telephone.
With a true understanding of the company’s brand, employees can perform at their optimal levels with a real desire to serve. And that always makes money!
Bonus Tip: Give Your Brand a Personality and Track It.
What type of “voice” does your brand want to convey?
For example…the trusted advisor? …the wiry and whimsical? …the inspiring and nurturing? Once you decide you’ll need to…
Track the brand.
Yes, track it! Ask your customers. Ask your prospects. Ask them what they think your company stands for. Ask them: “What words come to mind when you think of our company?” Are their responses in line with the qualities you want your target audience to associate with your company’s products and services?
What are the marketing words and graphics communicating to solidify the desired personality?
Remember that YOU control the narrative of your brand. To monetize your brand, you’ve got to conduct critical research about how you stack up against your competitors –and how you’re viewed in the public eye. Strong branding reflects specific expectations fulfilled and promises kept. Is your brand consistent, clear, and infused from top to bottom in your organization?
If you’re not seeing the results of your branding efforts, it may be time to reassess so your brand is making you money instead of costing money.
Take a peek into what‘s possible with your brand. It will be well worth your time and energy.
Need help? Request our free Brand Rating Checklist and begin to take your brand to the next level. Contact us today: email@example.com
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Carolyn Ortman is a marketing expert, leading organizations to improve their bottom line by giving them new perspectives on how they present themselves to their marketplace.
Her focus is on branding, marketing strategy, customer service, and leadership practices. She delivers on these topics through her love of speaking, training, and consulting.
As the principal of CKO Marketing Group, she passionately steers businesses through the confusing maze of marketing choices to increase revenue and create their impact on the world. Her Marketing MBA and 11 years as a business owner serve her well in delivering results for her clients. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org