A brand encapsulates everything about a company from its culture to market position. When building a brand strategy, marketers and their agency partners have many models, approaches, and templates to help guide their strategy development.
At its core, an exemplary branding strategy lists the one or two most important elements of your product or service, describes your company’s ultimate purpose in the world and defines your target customer. The result is a blueprint for what’s most important to your company and your customer.
You’ve probably heard that a brand is more than a logo. More than a product. More than a service. And each is true. It’s an umbrella that spans from corporate branding to user personas to voice and tone to everything in between. And in some ways, it’s even more. Because it’s all of these things packaged up and presented - then unpacked and cracked open so the world can see the gooey insides.
In simplest terms, a brand has three components:
1) Feeling: gut-level reaction.
2) Promise: the vow a brand makes to its audience.
3) Relationship: the quality of ongoing interactions between a brand and its audience.
In order to build a great brand, you need to bring them all together in a simple and energizing way to craft a brand strategy that appeals to the right people. But, how do you implement a solid branding strategy that drives your business goals? Here are five simple, sequential steps that guide to clarify, align and test for simplicity and efficacy.
Step 1: Identify Your Positioning
Take a step back, think about how you stand out and find what makes you unique. It’s not about where your brand fits into the market but where your products, services, and company culture are positioned.
To understand how positioning works, let’s have a look at one of the world’s most valuable brands: Google. Its products and services are high-end and easy-to-use and the company culture is innovative and aspirational. Google’s product branding strategy reflects its market positioning and the company is known for its exploitation of brand positioning.
Google uses its high-end innovative company culture, services, and products to create a unique brand experience that evokes customer dreams and aspirations. Its brand positioning reflects the pinnacle of achievement. The brand is bold, brash and embodies the bleeding-edge of technology. The proper leveraging of this positioning by Google has given the brand incredible valuable.
So how do you find your company’s positioning? The first thing you should do is identify and document what makes your company unique. For example, “our products are the most durable and reasonably priced in the market and the company is the most stable”. This is your USP or unique selling proposition.
Step 2: Leverage Your USP
A vital component of a solid brand marketing strategy is using your USP once you’ve documented it. All the brand assets should follow the USP and implementing this into your marketing is paramount. Immersion into your market is key and is one of the most important brand manager skills.
Once you’ve defined your USP, the brand assets should reflect it. For instance, if your company and its products represent simplicity and your USP is that you make your customers’ lives easier then you should design a minimalist logo, your color scheme would only have a few options and the key messaging needs to be concise.
Once you’ve created all your product branding assets and guidelines, document everything in a brand guide that’s available to everyone in the company.
Step 3: Immediate Actions
Be excited to create something rather than shoving the deck in a drawer and forgetting about it until your next round of annual planning. Each person on the team should be able to define one key action they can take to put this plan into action.
This set of questions has helped me stay focused on the most important aspects of building a marketing strategy - that strategy is not a pursuit in its own end; it is an action plan that a team agrees upon. It must be clear and create momentum. That’s an approach that will help create real business value.
Step 4: Build Branding Workflows
Your colleagues need to implement your branding strategy into their normal workflows effortlessly for it to be effective. And technology has made creating branding workflows easier than ever. Be sure to use the latest innovations like digital asset management in your brand management strategy to maximize the effectiveness of your branding efforts.
A digital asset management system, or DAM, is an essential solution for maintaining brand consistency. A DAM is a central location for you to create, store, share and secure all your images, video, articles and just about everything else. You’ll want to store all the brand assets in your DAM to be sure everyone has access to them.
When you place digital asset management at the center of your branding efforts you’ll have a good overview of your product branding. For instance, you can put approvals for assets in the DAM to ensure everyone is using only approved assets. You could also keep your logos and brand colors in a sharable folder within the system. That way, when you need to work with externals like designers and copywriters, you can easily share the brand assets with them.
Step 5: Measure Effectively and Frequently
So how do you show how your branding strategy was effective? You’ll need to measure it accurately before, during and after implementation. Remember, almost everything can be quantified in a modern marketing strategy.
There are many different factors that could be measured to see whether your new branding strategy was worth the effort. For instance, you could measure conversions on landing pages, opening rates for CRM emails or social media shares. Tie these into your new branding by getting a baseline before your branding strategy is actualized.
You should also take control of your own tracking by becoming proficient with free tools like Google Analytics. There’s even a Google Analytics Academy certification course, and it’s free. And if you need some help there are companies that measure the effectiveness of branding. Whatever you do in terms of product branding, just remember to measure effectively. You may need to justify your efforts in the future.