It is very important to be mindful of the obstacles that may arise when building a brand. Much of our work is centered around building brands for organizations as well as individuals and we have encountered several stumbling blocks when helping companies rebuild their brand images. Many of these issues are the result of something we like to call "feeding the beast." Feeding the beast involves a series of negligent, marketing decisions that cause a brand to get out of control. Once a brand is out of control, it begins to send messages that conflict with its mission and causes the value of the brand to decrease. Customers will begin to no longer value the product or services and the brand equity will be lost. In order not to loose that hard-earned brand equity, one must "tame the beast."
BUILDING A BRAND
"How does one build a brand?" you may ask. It is quite simple and can be done in 3 steps:
1. Develop a Plan
Develop a plan to strategically control the messages that are sent out on behalf of your brand and make it a company-wide priority to follow that plan. When the mission of the company or individual is at the forefront of every marketing decision, the product or service will benefit greatly.
2. Implement the Plan
Many companies are able to successfully implement their branding plans through the use of a corporate identity manual. A corporate identity manual is a management tool that will help ensure the correct application of the corporate identity on various levels. This will help to ensure that the brand does not get out of control and consistently sends messages that reinforce the company's mission and vision.
3. Maintain Quality Control
Much like a map, a plan is no good if you do not use it. It is necessary to manage your brand and make certain that the guidelines that have been set in place are being followed by all involved with company matters. It is vital that everyone understand that they are responsible for upholding the brand standards of the company. If you are managing your personal brand, be sure to make decisions that consistently send the same message to your target audience.
AVOID A BLAND BRAND
Let’s face it; no one enjoys food that is boring and flavorless. The same goes for brands. Much like food, brand identity should connect to the basic needs of your customers. If you want to create a brand that leaves a great taste in the minds of your consumers, you must start with the right ingredients. Below are seven key steps to creating a brand identity that will keep your target audience coming back for more.
1. Use creativity to stay innovative and fresh. No one likes to eat food that has gone way past the expiration date. It is important to stay current and up-to-date. Find ways to enhance your product/service on a regular basis. These enhancements should directly benefit your consumers and help create a higher level of brand loyalty.
2. Research your target audience well. Understanding the needs and desires of your target audience is essential. When you thoroughly understand their "taste", you are better able to serve items that appeal to their "taste buds" - items that excite them and keep them interested in your brand.
3. Create a look and feel. Every business (even restaurants) should have basic, corporate items that help to establish a visual aid for consumers. Logos, corporate color(s), supporting graphics, and corporate guidelines all work together to create a memorable brand in the minds of consumers. Over time, these elements will allow you to develop immediate brand recognition with your target audience.
4. Develop a flexible plan. Restaurants spend a great deal of time establishing and modifying their menu, because they know that it could make or break their company. Same is true of a marketing plan for businesses. It must be designed with your consumer in mind. Your market research and deep understanding of your target audience will assist you in creating a plan that will lead to the success of your brand. It is important to leave room for flexibility in the event that you need to "modify your menu."
5. Manage messaging. Once your look and feel is established, it will be easier to manage your brand. Just like a restaurant educates servers and hostesses on various menu items, your company must educate employees on brand guidelines and expectations. Everyone involved with your brand should have a good understanding of your mission and core beliefs in hopes to minimize any possible branding blunders. The mission and core beliefs should be reflected in everything associated with your brand. If your messaging is consistent and mindful of your target audience, it will help to strengthen your brand.
6. Always deliver on your brand promise. In order to ensure brand loyalty, it is critical that you commit to your core mission and beliefs. If you promise quality, you must deliver quality. If you promise originality, you must deliver originality. No one wants to see a plate of fish and chips, when they ordered the steak and potatoes. Be a company of your word!
7. Present quality. In other words: Don't get sloppy! Make sure your brand looks good, sounds good, and tastes good in the minds of your consumer. Show them that you truly believe in your product/service and that you are willing to go to great lengths to deliver on your brand promise.