To build a brand, one has to, first, determine what your market expects of your enterprise and, then, align the presentation of your products and services to match those expectations. For most existing enterprises – businesses, nonprofits, etc. – the alignment can be relatively easy to accomplish because, presumably, they’ve already been more or less meeting expectations for some time. Very often, all that’s required is a brand refresh, sort of like when a married couple renews its vows. Sometimes, however, existing companies allow their brands to become so neglected they lose all value and power. These companies reduce themselves to commodities and, if they are to try to rebuild their brand, they have to start at the very beginning, as if they were brand new.
And new companies, of course, whether they’re startups or the prodigy of a merger or spinoff or some other response to a market opportunity, are already positioned at the beginning. So, here at the start of 2020, let’s take another look at our brand strategy. Let’s try a simple 7-step exercise to breathe some new life into an existing brand or to get a new brand started off correctly.
1 – Define your market. Your market is made up of constituencies. A constituency is: Any group whose perception of your brand is important to the future of your business. So that’s your customers and prospective customers, true. But it’s also employees and prospective employees. It’s also suppliers, financiers, the press. Think of all the different groups that your business has to impress to be successful. Don’t omit anybody. List them all on a single piece of paper. Pin it to the wall. That’s your market.
2 – Listen to your market. Once you’ve defined your market, you’ll need learn what your market expects from you. How do you get that info? You ask the people who comprise your market. You’ll need to do some qualitative research and talk to your customers, your employees, and other constituencies and find out what they want from an enterprise like yours. You’ll need to learn what makes you valuable to customers – and what doesn’t. Are you offering the goods and services they want? Are you missing something? Don’t waste time guessing. If you ask it, your market will tell you everything you need to know.
3 – Find your purpose. Why does your enterprise exist? What purpose does it serve on this earth? How does it help anybody? Try to answer these questions without referring to money (we exist to make a million bucks) or rankings (we exist to become market leader). What role does your brand play in the collective mind of your market? Why do people buy from you? What emotional need does your product or service fulfill? Write a purpose statement from the point of view of your customer. It should start: “(Your business name) exists to _______________________________________. “ Fill in the blank Remember, you’re writing as your customer.
Ask Boardwalk to facilitate a new or
refreshed brand strategy for your business.
4 – Know the landscape. Do a survey of your competition, both direct and indirect. How are they positioned? How are they marketing themselves? What strategic changes are they considering? Most importantly, where do you fit in? Where is the open territory where a business with your unique capabilities could stake an unassailable claim? Find the place where you can demonstrate your differentiation from everyone else.
5 – Measure yourself. Conduct an audit of all your marketing efforts to date. (If you’re a new business, list all the marketing activities you know you’ll have to undertake.) Take into consideration all of your marketing channels: Your website, your online activities like inbound marketing, pay per click and social medial. And, of course, also review your more traditional activities: advertising, public relations, events, sponsorships, networking. Take a measure of every single touchpoint between you and your market. And compare your efforts to those of your competitors.
6 – Make an honest assessment. Analyze all of your findings so far. What is the best positioning, in this market, for a business with your unique brand promise? What changes do you need to make, either in your product/service mix or in the way you present yourself to the market, to get there? Will it require a subtle adjustment or a complete sea change? What resources will you need to allocate to maximize your brand value? The end result of this analysis should be a brand strategy, expressed through a positioning statement that clearly articulates your brand promise. A positioning statement describes how you want to be perceived by your market – how you want it to feel about you.
7 – Act boldly. Once you’ve charted a new course, commit to it! If you’re making a new brand promise, declare it loudly and often and be sure to consistently deliver on it. If you’ve determined you need a new logo, then get one quickly and replace all the old ones at once. Phasing in your new identity over time only creates a prolonged period of mixed messages that confuses your market and damages your brand.
When you’ve taken the above steps, you’ve repackaged your business offerings in a way that is authentic and believable to your most important constituencies. You have a new brand strategy that presents your product or service in a way that aligns with the market’s expectations of it. And, if you stay true to your brand promise and deliver on it consistently, over time, you will build up the kind of brand loyalty that market leaders in every sector enjoy.
So congratulations! You got 2020 off to a great start!
Best Branding Reads – Week of January 20, 2020
5 Emerging Brand Trends For 2020
The folks at BSI are pointing out the trends they see.
Fjord Trends 2020: Realigning the Fundamentals
Accenture sees other trends in the near future.
3 Keys To Balancing Brand Promise And Delivery
A couple of hilarious brand fails illustrate these words of wisdom.
Landor’s 2020 trend watch for brands
Branding giant Landor reveals the trends it sees coming up for brands in 2020. Very interesting.
Building a Successful Brand: What Does It Mean in 2020?
Same as it ever was. It’s just that, with every passing year, it becomes more important.
New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy
They’re shedding their creepy image but they’re sticking with that name.
Supercharge Your Social Media with Sentiment Analysis
They invented an algorithm to figure out what we mean when we write. That seems kind of sad to me.