Branding strategies include everything that helps you build a bigger and better brand, right? While that much may be obvious to most people, the importance of sound basics in building your brand is not something a lot of people give that much thought to. What I mean to say is that the term "brand management" to most people is a cosmetic activity looking mostly at things like your company name, logo, messaging and other areas where you present to or communicate with your customers (and therefore inform and influence their perception of you). While of these things may be important, they are not the building blocks upon which you build a sound brand. Instead, just as your brand itself is an intangible asset - and your most valuable one at that - the core things that define your brand are similarly intangible. In fact, before we discuss brand strategy it is important to first define exactly what a brand is
It is hard to define exactly what your brand is. Similarly, those things that are core to making your brand are not always easy to measure
The branding strategies I discuss here are far deeper than superficial advice about changing the look or tone of your company or sales and marketing. To begin with, to me the best way of looking at brand is to see it as the personality of your business. Your brand is more than your name or product or service or people or the value you create and contains all these things and everything else about your business. It is the human side of your company that people can relate to and that is perceived as having a human character. A brand is what makes a business like a person and the kinds of things that go into making a good or bad brand are similar to the kinds of things that make good or bad people. The kinds of things I mean are your core values that permeate everything about your business and the promise you make your customers about what you are bringing to the market and how you will serve them
Just like your actual personality your brand as your business personality is everything that people think and say about your business. This in turn is informed by everything that you yourself think, say and do. Remember that anything about your business speaks to everything about your business. Customer perception is influenced by everything from business cards and packaging to "big" things like your name and company mission. When you think of your brand as being the personality of your business, the following personality traits - and others - that apply to people can also be used in terms of describing your brand: identity, story, mission, values, vocation/ industry. How you think creates your values which in turn informs your actions. It is these three things which define you and how you are perceived and therefore you should keep them in mind as the core of everything else that is and helps define your brand
Everything begins with how you think: your thoughts create your values which dictate how you behave and what you do in a given situation in any field of endeavor. That most essential of branding strategies is therefore to monitor your thought process and distill into your mindset the kind of thinking that personifies the kind of brand you are trying to build. In networking you might ask the question, "what kind of person do people like to be around?" and then emulate those qualities. With your business you should ask the same kind of question, "What kind of business do people like to buy from?" There are certain defacto traits that every brand should have such as integrity, trustworthiness, dependability and so forth like the character traits of good people. As well, your brand needs to be relatable to people in order for them to be able to emotionally invest in it. But beyond that, how do you want people to see and think of you?
What do you really care about? What is more important to you than money? What do you stand for? What do you promise?
There is a line of thinking in branding strategies that says that you should boil everything about your brand down to a single point - what is the one thing you want people to think about when they think about your brand? I will say that you should look at one thing but in two areas: who you are and what you do. This is tied to the last piece of the strategic branding puzzle in creating your business personality which is to ask, what is your promise? Your brand is not only about what you represent but what you offer. Especially in the business world, it is not enough that people think positive things about you but that they also think of you as a provider of choice in your line of business. Even in the world of human affairs the most well-known personalities are and have been those who accomplish the most. Similarly, in business your brand equity is the amount that your brand reinforces your bottom line and helps you do bigger and better business
Your brand is defined by who you are and what you do and so the 2 parts to managing your brand are managing who you are and what you do. How do you manage who you are? You might call an activity guided by this kind of thinking "business improvement" just as the science of "self improvement" endeavours to better our personalities and character. Perpetuate the traits and characteristics that define your business personality through integrity, being consistent, constant differentiation, ongoing innovation and building your story. Integrity means to "be whole", in this case to represent your core beliefs in every aspect of your business while communicating an integrated message. Being consistent means that you repeat the same brand-building message and behaviour day in and day out with everyone and everything you do. Differentiation is what makes your business as well as your brand different and regular innovation will maintain this differentiation and your competitive advantage. Finally, your story is what you are all about. Everyone loves a good story and everyone has a good story. Your story is what will one day be your legacy
The 2nd part of managing your brand - what you do - contains technical branding strategies that you can actively tweak and monitor and hire experts to help you with for the most part. These are the areas that most people thing about when talking about branding. Brand elements include name, logo, taglines, shapes, sounds, colours and other distinctive features associated with your brand. These are all geared towards creating resonance and a specific emotional response in customers. Brand messaging implies that you are consistently reinforcing your brand in all of your ongoing sales and marketing communications. Brand measurement means that you are active about brand management and monitor the growth of your brand as you implement various strategies and as your business grows. Measuring the strength of your brand can be as simple as measuring how often you appear in search results and how often and in what context your brand is being mentioned and discussed online
Your personality changes as you grow older and similarly your brand growth is tied to the growth of your business. Your ultimate goal in branding is to create a platform from which to educate, influence and inspire others. You are seeking to create communities of like-minded individuals sharing a common brand culture. Your purpose has transcended selling products and services and has transformed into the desire to create impact and make a positive difference in the world through your unique voice and talents. Growing your brand starts with creating the right identity for your business and then managing the various aspects that go into making your brand. The brand awareness you will then create fosters customer engagement where you then have the opportunity to create loyalty by serving your customers and delivering on your brand promise. By further engaging and rewarding your most loyal users you then create the brand evangelists who will spread your message far and wide creating further brand awareness which you can then similarly build on
Products have lifecycle and "journeys" and I have talked about the various stages and processes of the buyer's, seller's and marketer's journey. Brands also follow journeys starting with being a generic brand where you are simply seen as a commodity provider competing on price, supply and demand like so many other competitors. From here you can become a reference brand having realized significant competitive differentiation that allows you to charge more based on your perceived superiority to competing brands. What we might call a personality brand exists when you have a strong following among a significant number of loyal fans. This is when your brand gets talked about just like people talk about one another. In order to have a bonafide brand personality it goes without saying that you must run a quality business and have happy customers as a starting point. An iconic brand is recognized as an industry-leader and trend-setter and your brand is now far more than the sum of the parts of your business. You have wrested the power of the market by building brand equity to a point where you can now create new markets. The final stage in this brand trajectory is a democratic brand where you are now a true champion of the people. You have not only been successful in creating a large community around your brand but have crowned your customer king and have thus delegated your power to them. In a sense you have completed the circle and have returned to being "one of many" just like you were as a generic brand. The difference is that you are now one of many brand loyalists as opposed to one of many competing brands
You may have read this article on branding strategies looking for answers to the question of how: how can I build a big brand? What should I do starting from where I am and with what I have? You may, once again, be looking for branding "tips and tricks" that I have covered in numerous other articles on communication, advertising, marketing ideas, guerilla marketing and more. Those kinds of strategies are common to all of sales and marketing and there is nothing revolutionary about choosing and executing a specific promotional task or campaign. On the other hand, if you have understood what may be called the "esoteric" aspects of branding that I have talked about here then you will realize that everything you do affects your brand and can become an opportunity to build it. Your very learning about branding is building your brand because you are changing your thoughts and adding to you knowledge which will then influence everything else you do (hopefully for the better!).
Branding is one of those areas that can mean everything or nothing. If you really understand and internalize the concept of "living your brand" then you will be able to infect others with your ideology and hopefully create a large following. However, if you are constantly searching for the latest and greatest ways to promote your brand with less regard for maintaining excellence in your business and all your do then you might as well forget about branding strategies altogether and go back to plain old fashioned sales and marketing