Ten Imperatives for Branding Success
Brands represent an organization's most valuable asset--influencing customers, prospects, investors, and employees. Why do some brand initiatives just expire midstream after an initial investment of capital and resources? Whether you are a consumer brand, a nonprofit, or a mid-size service business, here are some tips to increase the chances of positive outcomes for your initiative.
- Ensure that your leadership team endorses the brand initiative and process. There must be a strong mandate from the top. If the commitment to revitalize the brand is tepid, it will fizzle in the middle. Do you have a plan and a disciplined process that is easy to understand?
- Establish clear goals and an endpoint. Why are we doing this? How will things be different at the initiative's end? Will we have new guidelines to make it easier to communicate consistently about our brand to our customers and employees? Will we clearly articulate who we are and what we stand for? Will our website will work on mobile devices?
- Establish clear responsibilities. Acknowledge that your investment will require staff time, not just writing checks. It's a collaborative process. Identify an internal person to be the direct contact for the branding firm--a "make it happen" person with superior organization skills.
- Use a disciplined process with realistic benchmarks. Agree on what the brand stands for before any creative work is done. Use a tool like the brand brief to ensure that key decision makers agree on your brand's essence, its competitive advantage, your target market, and your value proposition.
- Stay customer centric. The best brand decisions can only be made with the customer's needs and experiences in mind. See the world through the eyes of your customers.
- Commit to a small decision group at the beginning of the process. Never bring in decision-makers in the middle of the process. Key decisions makers must be present throughout the process and at all key decision points.
- Determine your readiness to make a commitment? Is your company ready to invest the time, capital, and human resources to revitalize your brand? Readiness is a critical success factor.
- Determine how you will measure success. Consider benefits like employee engagement, and a more efficient, cost-effective marketing toolbox. Communicate that it's everyone's job to protect and grow the brand asset.
- Launch internally first, then externally to key stakeholders. Remember to communicate why you made these changes and what they mean. Thoughtfully consider your list of stakeholders as you plan your launch. Make sure that all of your vendors have access to the new guidelines.
- Demonstrate—don't declare—why customers should choose you over others. Seize every opportunity to communicate your value, and to radically differentiate your brand from others. Identify touchpoints where your can build trust, attract new customers, create buzz, and inspire customer loyalty.