How’s your brand doing?
Is your brand claiming it’s rightful market share?
Leo Burnett described a brand as:
A brand symbol as “anything that leaves a mental picture of the brand’s identity.”
Cheryl Burgess sums a brand up as:
“A brand is a reason to choose.”
Seth Godin goes a step further:
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another..”
If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
While definitions of what makes a brand may differ, there’s consensus around the importance of building a brand as a competitive marketing tool. Once the audience becomes aware of a brand, they have an expectation that the brand must live up to.
Effective brands have staying power because they deliver shorthand communication that stands out in today’s intense, media-rich environment.
Why you need a breakthrough brand
Everyday, we’re hammered by messages in every direction.
- The number of emails sent globally each day is just over of 200 billion. Business emails alone account for approximately 110 billion.
- The average person receives and sends 121 email messages per day, 10 of which are “spam” that land in your inbox due to the limitations of filtering.
- An average of 360 advertising images bombard us per day—although we don’t consciously attend to more than half of them and even fewer make an impression.
As a result of unabated information overload, attention is a scarce resource. Consumers cope by developing their own internal filtering mechanisms. Simply put, we have become more adept at paying attention to what we deem important. Branding is key to helping your business bypass filters and win consumer attention.
What goes into great brands
Brands are composed of 5 factors that, strategically speaking, should tie directly to the needs of your target audiences:
- Brand promise is what you tell consumers they will “get” when they purchase a product or service under your brand umbrella.
- Brand perceptions are the desired thoughts and feelings your brand is designed to evoke.
- Brand expectations are the standards you set for the brand experience.
- Brand persona is the set of personality attributes associated with your brand.
- Brand elements such as logo, color palette, messaging, tone and such combine to help deliver a consistent voice and identity across tactics and mediums.
Positioning is an important aspect of branding. Strategic positioning is designed to influence consumer perception so that your brand (relative to competing brands) occupies a clear, distinct and advantageous place in the mind of your customers. The company that clearly articulates what it does, why it’s relevant and how it’s different, helps customers make better and faster buying decisions and will beat the competition that lacks strategic positioning.
If your brand doesn’t meet consumer expectations in every interaction, consumers will become confused or disappointed by what you’ve told them. They’ll turn away from your brand in search of another that does meet their needs and expectations.
The strongest brands are clear, consistent, reliable and believable to their prospects, customers and employees. These brands understand their competitors and audiences. They differentiate themselves from the pack and promise the right things to the right people.
When your prospects have strong, positive brand associations incorporated into their worldview, you’ve hit pay dirt. The ultimate goal—brand affinity—comes when you’ve successfully wormed your way into the hearts and minds of your customers and created emotional connections that inspire ongoing loyalty and patronage.
If you’re asked… “what do you think of when you hear BMW?” Most people would say, “the ultimate driving machine.” That’s due to years of consistent branding across all touchpoints, including advertising, dealerships and the owner experience.
Branding after mergers and acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions present special challenges for branding, as they can result in a clash of product brands and brand standards, not to mention merged business units and staff. Consolidated companies must act quickly to avoid customer and employee confusion and create continuity for everyone concerned. Through rebranding—the process of revisiting and refreshing a brand—merged companies provide clarity and maintain good will with their constituents. A well-crafted brand transition plan will provide strategic answers to burning questions.
- Will products or markets retain their own identifies or live under one masterbrand?
- Will there be a new naming convention for products, or for the company?
- What is the brand transition plan?
Organizations generally choose from one of four approaches for managing their brands following a merger or acquisition:
- Rely on a masterbrand as the unifier.
A single brand that represents the entire organization. Allowing for aligned communication efficiencies and using product names or descriptors to call out product-level attributes.
- Operate a house of brands.
Ideal for product brands, this allows an organization to develop a portfolio of various brands, each with a unique brand positioning tailored to a particular product or market segment.
- A family similarity – endorsed branding.
Despite the distinctness of each product brand, the success of an endorsing brand architecture is the connection between the higher-level brand promise (the endorsing parent) and the product brand. This link provides the assurance to the customer that if they like one product in the family, then a sister brand is also worthy of consideration.
- Best of Both
This option leverages the existing brand equity in their respective marketplaces and gives the perception that the acquired organization operates independently. However, sustaining and supporting 2 brands isn’t a long-term strategy within the same market segment as customers often view them as competitors with limited cross-sell opportunities as the customer life-cycle changes.
Make branding a priority
Whatever your marketing approach and whatever in-market communications you develop, every tactic that represents your brand should be consistent. That includes loyalty/customer retention, lead nurturing, lead generation, direct marketing, press/trade advertising, trade shows, websites/microsites, online ads (pay-per-click), webinars, social, video and collateral. Consistent, multi-touchpoint branding succeeds by reinforcing your message and establishing an accumulated impression in the minds of your prospects and customers.
Check out the infographic, then let us show you what a consistent branding approach across your communications can do for you.