While you may have heard a lot about branding and brand strategy, zeroing in what needs to be done and how can be quite mystifying. As a business grows and gains visibility, it creates a fantastic opportunity to build a brand for the company. This step can be overwhelming for some business owners. Here, the key is to keep the bigger picture in sight. A clear vision and branding goal for the company helps keep the entire process aligned and focused.
A brand strategy is a long-term goal of creating a distinct identity for the business. This long-term goal is further divided into small-term tasks. While many business owners believe that branding is all about creating a logo, establishing social media contact, setting up a website, it is in essence much more than that. Branding makes a business distinguishable from the crowd and establishes a trusted connection with the audience.
Your logo design, logo colors, social media tone, website layout, all may change at one point of the business growth, but the identity created in the mind of audiences goes a long way. A unique and strong brand image created for the business is a testament to a successful branding strategy.
Each business in different industries has its own set of needs and characteristics. While some marketers believe that the art of devising an effective branding strategy cannot be convened in a set formula, we have brought you some critical aspects of a good branding strategy. These 7 components will make sure that you end with a comprehensive brand strategy:
1. Define your company’s purpose
A company’s purpose is the reason why it was established, summed up in one or a maximum of two sentences. The company’s functioning and activities are steps towards achieving this ultimate purpose. This identifies the purpose of the company branding as well while creating a long-term goal for the company. Think about what sets the company apart from the others, what makes the product or the company as a whole special. Answer the key question: Why should the company be chosen over others? The answer to this would provide a starting point to build the entire branding plan.
Here it is also crucial to consider the tone which the company wishes to set for the future. This tone acts as a foundation in creating the subsequent phases and goals for the company branding strategy. The company logo should also be designed keeping in mind this tone and must augment the company’s purpose.
2. Be consistent with the brand message
There are numerous channels today where you can connect with the audience. The key is to be consistent everywhere. This helps reinforce the brand image the company aims at creating. As the brand message is consistent, the audience can successfully form a brand perception. Consistency also helps in building memorability for the audience, and they can recognize the company from amidst the crowd. Recall for the company is a crucial step in the entire branding journey. When all aspects of the company branding strategy are consistent, they come together and create a coherent image transforming a company into a brand.
3. Connect with the audience emotionally
Many brands take the emotional route for their branding exercise. This has been one of the most successful approaches when it comes to establishing a brand. Its human nature to register an emotional cue more than a practical suggestion. Considering this inclination, it is crucial to forming an emotional connection with the targeted audience.
Companies such as Amazon, make sure to come up with more than just sales and offers during key festival seasons. Their advertisements all year round captures emotions and hence can gain more engagement. Once the audience attention is captured, it becomes easier to convey the message of reliable service and the best product with ease.
4. Keep room for flexibility
While consistency is vital for a successful company branding strategy, adaptability is also essential for the longevity of the whole exercise. The trends and needs of the market change with time, making it crucial for the branding strategy to be flexible so that it can be altered. Each company aims at creating a unique and timeless brand for themselves, which cannot be achieved until and unless the short term branding goals are adapted based on the audience inclinations.
Being flexible also means, creating contingencies and leaving scope for certain shifts if the situation demands. In case there comes the point where the company’s vision shifts for its product or target audience, it warrants a shift in the company’s brand image as well. It is comforting when there is room to adapt, as the company doesn’t need to undergo drastic makeovers in such a case. They can simply build upon or modify the brand perception in place.
5. Build strong loyalty programs
A strong brand always has massive followers of loyal customers. These loyal customers are a testament to the company’s performance over the years. Cultivating loyalty takes time, and meticulous attention but this effort pays in manifolds in creating a brand image for the company.
As author Jeffrey Gitomer famously said, “You don’t earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day.” Each company has customers who have praised the products, gave the new launches a chance, gave their two cents when it came to feedback and stayed with the company. These loyal customers are the real assets for the organization and must be rewarded. Creating good loyalty programs encourages loyal customers to stick around and also urges new customers to become loyal and stay with the company.
6. Get your employees on board your company’s branding journey
Employees constitute an integral part of the company that drives the entire operation. A company branding strategy can be successful once it becomes more than the brainchild of the marketing department. As the plan is instilled in each one of the employees, it not only supports the strategy but also helps build a sense of belonging for the employee in the company. The employees must understand that their actions have an impact on the company’s brand, irrespective of their role in the company. Each employee once onboard can become a representative and unofficial spokesperson for the company, reinforcing the brand image.
7. Be aware of your competition
As you build a brand for your company, take into account all elements which can hold influence over the audience. One of the most critical of such forces is the competition. While some of your competition might be taking a tried and tested path, some might be experimenting when it comes to marketing. Don’t fret over which would come out victorious, instead stay conscious and learn. Learning what the competition is doing and what is working out might result in a spark of inspiration for you to create something better and unique. It is also an excellent avenue for you to add value while making improvements in the company’s branding strategy.
This is exceptionally crucial for social media strategies; it helps companies stay ahead of the curve. For instance, the wendy’s twitter is always buzzing and offers quick funny banter with the competition. This is in alignment with their fun and playful brand tone and also engages the attention of millennials who are the most active on social media.
Building and executing an excellent comprehensive branding strategy can be a challenge for even the established companies, making it even more daunting for start-ups. This makes it even more pivotal to be careful while designing the branding strategy. It is recommended to start small such as with a good and effective logo and start building from there. These essential components will make sure that you have a strong company branding plan and wherever the entire process seems overwhelming, it helps to take a step back, breathe, re-assess and adjust if needed. Although you might have planned all the actions and goals carefully, keep in mind the dynamic nature of the market and make it a point to revisit the steps when deemed necessary. At the same time, remember that branding is more of an art than science and there is no set path for making it successful.