Financially Responsible Marketing

Building a successful brand – an activity that pays off

Posted by on Jan 13, 2016

branding

Why is it that brand is something that is rarely or barely understood? Even in the world of marketing in which I live and breathe! To a surprising extent, those who do have a concept of brand think it’s a synonym for logo. (Wrong!) Others know it means more than that, but have difficulty going further.

The problem gets worse with B2B. At least with consumer brands there’s a tangibility to the product (clothing, food, sports gear); we have an idea of what brand might mean. But with B2B, it’s a whole new arena – how do you define the brand of a logistics firm? A digital analytics agency?

This is what a brand is…

Your brand is what your customers, prospects, and the general public think of, when they think of your business / services / products.

Why do we build a brand?

Why do we build a brand? Again, it’s surprising how even sophisticated, successful business people can’t answer that question. Really, they say, what difference does it make? Don’t we have better things to do with our time and money than work on something so vague and intangible? Answer: no.

You invest in building your brand because:

  • Doing the work to build your brand sharpens your marketing message. Which helps you to reach out to the right audience, with the right message. Which ups your success rate, considerably, in every marketing and sales effort.
  • A strong brand inspires confidence and trust. It makes the buying decision easier for every prospect you touch. People fear the unknown and gravitate, like moths to a flame, to a safe, known solution. That’s why the world’s most successful companies work so hard on their brands. Customer loyalty, founded on a strong brand and well nurtured, is a powerful business asset for any firm, of any size.

How do you build a brand?

Quite a bit of the work in building a brand is mental cudgeling. What, exactly, do we stand for? What does that mean to our customers? These short, simple questions are surprisingly hard to answer. It’s an iterative process; it takes repeated kicks at the can and a good deal of dialogue within your leadership to come up with answers that feel right.  Successful branding does not happen overnight.

You’ll start with an outline of the characteristics of your business, and work towards establishing a brand foundation – knowing what the business stands for. Your brand positioning statement will align the business with its projected image.

Building a visual brand

Now we’re in my territory! As a graphic designer, I’m used to translating the meaning, message and target market behind a brand into a visual message. Your visual presentation is more than simply design; it’s a reflection of what your company is about. You want your visual presentation to speak the same language as what’s being said in any words or presentation you deliver, online or off. It’s an art, building a visual brand – finding colors that express the core, and an image that is simple, descriptive, and aesthetically pleasing.

Paul Rand, the world’s best-known logo designer, created the revered IBM logo and the logo for NeXT, Steve Jobs’ ambitious brainchild of the 80s. You may have heard Rand’s eight-word quote on the role of the visual: Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.

Supporting your new brand identity

Once you’ve created a visual brand identity, you’ll want to create brand guidelines for your employees and suppliers to know how to use the new brand. It helps to create templates for everyone that are easy to use and don’t require a lot of customization, so that employees don’t try them to re-create them on their own.

The best argument for strong branding

At the end of the day, the most powerful argument for solid branding is the fact that successful businesses have it – from Home Hardware to KPMG to Cisco to the hair salon that your sister swears by. The next time you’re thinking of where to allocate your marketing budget, consider investing in your brand. It may not feel like the most obvious investment – but I can assure you it pays off.

 

Financially Responsible Marketing™ thoughts by Imaginis