Every business (or product, service, campaign, event, project, nonprofit, whatever) that needs to be marketed, has to do what it can to minimize competition and maximize income. This requires the organization in question to position itself properly within the vast landscape of brands that are out there. The world is full of other brands, competing, commanding attention, cluttering up the minds of buyers. In such a world, no brand can succeed for long if it is not positioned in a way that makes it most attractive to its best prospective customers while also putting its competition at a disadvantage. Proper positioning takes some effort. No one person can be in command of all the competing narratives in the world, so you can’t just trust your instincts alone. Every marketable asset needs a formal brand positioning statement.
Every business has a brand whether it wants one or not. Every business has a relationship to its market and that relationship is its brand. It’s partly a recognition thing. What does the business look like? What does it sound like? It’s partly a reputation thing. What is it known for? What does it stand for? It’s even partly a legal thing. What trademarks or copyrights does it own? Today, we think of it as a total experience thing. How does the market experience this business? How do the two parties relate to one another? How do people feel about this business? Most small- and middle-market business owners put very little time into thinking about their brand. They commission a logo design, launch a website and leave it at that. They let their brand grow wild from there without ever considering what it might grow into. Shrewd business owners, however, create a strategies for their brands. They decide how they want people to experience their business and they take steps to ensure that they do. They shape their relationship with the market and guide their business to a positioning that affords competitive advantage. The market leaders in every category do this. In large part, that’s why they became market leaders.
Q – How do you know when its time to consider making a change to your brand?
A – When there’s been a change in your business.
In point of fact, that’s not entirely true. There are actually quite a few different symptoms that could possibly indicate a branding problem. Symptoms like flattening sales or high employee turnover, among others. (All of these symptoms will be addressed in a future blog post.) However, when high turnover occurs, most businesses look elsewhere for answers. They almost never consider that a weak brand might be a significant contributing factor to the problem. But a change in the business itself? That is one time when management is likely to think about their brand. Because any significant change at all could have a serious knock-on effect. It could result in a change in company culture, a change in positioning, or some other important change in the way the business relates to its market. Let’s look a little closer at how change can affect your brand.
You’ve determined your brand promise. You know your purpose, your mission, and your positioning. You’ve crafted the perfect brand strategy. You’ve got both your branding and marketing messaging squared away and ready to go. The only remaining question: What media will you use to reach out to your market? That’s going to be determined, in large part, by available budget and projected return on investment. But, these days, there are more options than ever, from pay-per-click ads to skywriting and everything in between.There are effective channels for even the most meager budgets. There are a couple of things to remember when drawing up your media plan. Like any other form of communication, marketing should be open, honest and regular. And it requires a certain amount of listening too. Let’s tackle that last point first.
Society impels us to conform but individualism drives us to stand out. Tribalism induces us to band together but curiosity draws us out onto lonely explorations. Where, as individuals, do each of us fall on that safety-seeking/risk-taking continuum? Where, on that same continuum, should we position our brands? And how do we make sure our brands can be recognized by kindred spirits – by the correct market? With all the tools available to marketers these days, visual style – semiology – is still the most direct, visceral connection to human beings. Businesses need to signal to their markets that they share values. That way, the market will feel safe in letting the brand into their lives. It’s all about showing the market something they recognize and trust. We can understand the phenomenon the moment we walk out onto a busy, urban street.
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