More than ever, we are seeing entrepreneurs, startups and small companies saying they need branding. However we’re finding out, what they’re usually after is actually brand style development; templates, a customized website theme and a logo to call their “brand”. For serious companies, this is and should be recognized as only one piece of the puzzle that comes after the strategy and positioning.
There are No Shortcuts in Branding
We’ve seen many companies take the short cuts to the actual brand strategy and positioning process for a plethora of different reasons, one main reason being that the process takes a significant amount of time from key stakeholders. We know it’s extremely difficult to get all the top heads to meet together and agree on something as large as the entire brand. Plus their schedules generally never permit the time it takes. However, getting all key stakeholders on board is necessary so they can have a real understanding of why the branding process is so important and why they have invested in the process and the company as a whole.
For us, it’s a no brainer if you are looking to grow your company, differentiate, and have a real market understanding of what you offer, including overall brand awareness, it is imperative to not skip the necessary steps in getting there.
Sadly it’s not uncommon to see companies and startups investing massive amounts of money on their marketing efforts, and product development, and still not garnering the results that get them close to being on the map with their competitors, or as some prefer to call peers. Most of the logic we’ve heard when people are ready to finally go through the process is that they didn’t have the money to invest in this but just think of all those years thrown away with scattered marketing, seeing what sticks and running with that for a while before trying a different approach. It’s basically throwing money out the window.
We have worked with seasoned CMOs and CEOs who know better but still cut corners and even chase the ever moving wave of trends or feedback from analysts or industry experts. This is the reminder that if you can’t stick with your plan and you are always changing your strategy and messaging, your market will be as confused as you. When you make the decision to invest, make sure all the stakeholders are at the table and understand everyone in the company is responsible for owning the brand.
What does it mean for everyone within the company to own the brand?
If everyone isn’t on board with the strategy and positioning and is pitching your company as something other than what everyone had agreed on, you are missing a huge opportunity to create that pinnacle clarity and brand awareness. But, if everyone in the company, from sales to product development, to finance to marketing can clearly articulate the elevator pitch, understandable to the layperson, that’s what it means to truly own your brand. Once that clarity is built through a strong foundation, brand awareness will follow.
This is not to say that the brand or brand strategy should never be updated. If you are around long enough, it’s necessary to revisit the brand platform, but as a planned effort with current and long term rationale.
What does brand strategy involve?
By definition, brand strategy is a long-term plan, often referred to as a roadmap for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments. As you develop a brand strategy it’s important to answer the questions; Why are you creating a new brand? What do you hope to achieve by launching the new brand? Who are your competitors or are you creating a new market? Who is your ideal client and how will they benefit? All of these questions will also drive your brand positioning.
This process goes hand in hand with your business goals. Often referred to Measurable Business Objectives (MBOs). We are talking high level goals, not short term needs. The MBOs should come from the roadmap and those will then turn into departmental goals such as your marketing business objectives for the year.
Use those long-term objectives as a basis for all of your strategic branding efforts. For example, if you’re trying to reach a new audience, your brand strategy for achieving that goal is likely to be quite different from a company that wants to steal market share from a category leader, and that’s why goal definition is a fundamental starting point for any brand strategy. The first question you have to answer is, “Why?”
Of course, the best brands stick with their strategies to avoid market confusion, but those strategies leave room for flexibility as the market, consumers, and competitors change. Think of it this way… Just as your goals in life might change over time, so might your brand goals and strategy. Similarly, just as you might modify your plan to achieve your goals in life, so too might your brand marketing plan change. A specific, achievable brand strategy is an essential component of any business, because it affects every area within it.
Are you ready to carve out your space with a clear path and a memorable brand identity?
Kind Marketing has a dedicated and seasoned team with a streamlined process that will give your company a huge advantage and opportunity for the success you are after.