Great brands win business… because they've earned it.
These days, the word “branding” gets tossed around in a lot of different ways. What comes to mind when you think of branding? Do you have a killer brand? Or, do you have a brand problem? Here are a few of the most common questions about branding, answered by our President, Michelle Latta.
Q. Why do companies build brand strategies?
A. With the speed of innovation today, it is very easy for competitors to replicate products, services, features and benefits making many business categories look and feel homogeneous. And even if a company has a very clear product differentiator, sometimes it isn’t articulated well enough to be evident to potential customers. Companies create brand strategies to communicate a clear and meaningful point of difference that persuades people to buy their products and services over the competition’s.
Q. What is a brand strategy?
A. A brand strategy is a plan that includes several messaging and creative components.Brand positioning: A single sentence that successfully articulates the product and/or service, the framing of the category, the target audience, and a unique differentiator. This sentence defines how you will win in the marketplace. It often becomes the road map for your organization—guiding marketing, advertising, product development, innovation and even company culture.
Brand innovation: Once the positioning is developed, a company has the opportunity to innovate products, services, ways of working, going to market and beyond. From employee education, to distribution, to new retail programs, and more, the possibilities are endless—while on strategy, of course.
Brand architecture: Brand architecture helps companies, managing more than one product or service, assemble those offerings into portfolios and business lines that make sense against the newly defined positioning. The goal is to make it easier for your customers to understand and shop your brand(s).
Product messaging: Depending on the company, a secondary layer of message strategy may be required beyond the brand positioning to help articulate individual lines of business and product messaging.
Brand identity: Brand identity is the visual communication of your brand across all consumer touch-points. After a positioning is created, your brand identity is assessed to determine if any elements need to change to deliver on the new strategy. This could include logo design, iconography, signage, advertising, collateral-- a thorough audit of communications should be conducted.
Brand integration: Brand integration is the process of rolling out your brand strategy across the company to align the culture, operations, sales, corporate communications, PR, social media, and advertising teams to ensure that the new brand will be lived out through employee actions, the business and communications strategies.
Q. What do I need to create a brand strategy?
A. You need to know five things:
This market and customer intelligence will allow you to diagnose the brand. You'll find the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats-- from there it takes smart, strategic thinkers to synthesize this learning into a brand strategy. This is where the magic happens.
Q. What does a brand consulting firm do?
A. Companies turn to brand consulting firms to:
- help gather market and customer intelligence
- interpret the data
- help separate the wheat from the chaff to find ideas that are the building blocks of a new brand
- form the ideas and articulate the new brand
- another positive side-affect is that your brand partner serves as an unbiased voice in the process
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