Branding, what is it and why do we need it? You can find thousands of different definitions and explanations of branding. Webster describes branding as: “the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand”. Personally, my best explanation is that branding is a clear and concise message of who we are, what we do, and what the company stands for. Some would say the company’s promise, but I feel it goes much deeper than that. It’s the who, what, where, when, why, and how all rolled up into one. We create a brand so that whomever see’s that brand will immediately have a positive message come to mind that will hopefully solicit a response. A brand that will excite their senses and cause them to act with confidence, knowing they can trust the company they are dealing with. This is of course based on, in some cases, decades of branding strategies coupled with excellent advertising, as well as a solid reputation for quality and service. Examples of solid branding that continues to be effective today is represented in the five logos below. I’m sure you can tell the name of each of these companies, even with the name removed?
Some of the key practical components in creating an effective brand is to first create a great logo, then secondly, to develop a clear, concise, and memorable message. Before this is done however, you must have a clearly defined mission statement. It’s amazing to me how many companies we meet with who have not taken the necessary steps to insure their company has a good solid mission statement and business plan that outlines all the important aspects of what the company is about, what they do, what are their goals and objectives, and how are they going to get there. I don’t believe you can come up with an effective brand until you have first gone through developing clear goals and a plan. It’s kind of like taking a summer trip to see a game at all the baseball parks in the United States and just getting up one morning and heading off without any plan! I know, I know but it’s so fun to come up with ideas about how the logos going to look, or you’ve got an awesome tag line and you want to put it to work, but you have to remember first things first. In the long run you’ll be glad you did. I would suggest creating a checklist that looks something like this, whether you are a new business starting out, or are a twenty year old business in the process of rebranding, the steps are the same.
- Plan: Determine your mission statement and business plan. Set your goals and objectives.
- Create: Generate a great logo and a memorable message.
- Define: Establish a marketing plan which should include branding standards that outlines how you are going to get your message across and how your brand is used.
- Track: Put into place the tools necessary to track your results to determine effectiveness and ROI (return on investment).
- Implement: Execute your plan, integrating your new brand consistently across all mediums.
- Deliver: Deliver on your brand or promise.
- Review: Set periodic times to revisit your planning and strategies to make sure you are on track, or if you need to modify your plans due to changes in the business climate, clients, economy, etc.
In conclusion, your branding strategy is without doubt the most effective tool in getting your message out to the masses. Plan this part of your business very carefully, seek counsel from seasoned professionals whenever possible, and finally, be faithful in seeing your plan through to completion and you will be sure to reap the rewards of creating an effective branding strategy.