Smart Branding Leads to Success
One of your organization’s greatest assets is its brand. Done right, a smart brand will distinguish you from your competitors and promise a customer experience that delivers everything it represents. Your brand should resonate in every aspect of your marketing strategy: message positioning, creative advertising and communications. With a smart brand, your company becomes compelling, distinctive and relevant.
But creating a smart brand isn’t an easy process. Rather, it is a long, complex one ripe with discovery, research and creative exploration.
The Unifying Brand Idea™ (UBI™)
To get started, you must first discover your organization’s Unifying Brand Idea™ (UBI™), a key element in your company’s ability to achieve new levels of success, leadership and positive change. A powerful guiding light for the entire business, your UBI focuses the decisions and energies of your organization on achieving its objectives and clearly defines areas such as your customer base, the operation of your sales force, and product development. For potential customers, your UBI establishes a positive expectation that clearly differentiates your organization from all the others on both a rational and emotional level.
- Gather Perceptions: To define your unique unifying brand idea, you must first determine how all of your stakeholders think and feel about your brand. Gather feedback from employees, contractors, customers and other relevant individuals. Cross reference the results to hone in on common themes about preferences, loyalty and attributes that attract them and drive their decision making. Gather your information in such a way that you can differentiate feedback about the overall company from specific feedback about such things as specific services or products, customer service, physical locations, competitors, etc. Conduct a gap analysis between perception and reality of preferences, as well as differences in beliefs between your various stakeholder groups.
- Conduct Analysis: From this research analysis, devise a list of key questions you can use to gain further insight by conducting separate qualitative focus groups with your various stakeholder groups. Meet with your leadership or marketing team to review the findings relative to your overall business goals, critical success factors, competitive market share by service line, competitive marketing spending, positioning and creative messaging. This is also the time to conduct a thorough SWOT analysis of your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to bring to light your key marketing opportunities.
- Discover the Facts: Conduct a Discovery Session, an open conversation and structured series of exercises that brings your team together to address strategic questions and to define the Six Ps of Branding: Positioning, Promise, Presentation, Personality, Propositions and Pipeline. Listening is the key as the pertinent facts rise to the top during these sessions. The Six Ps will define your UBI, which in turn will inspire organizational performance and market appeal.
The Six P’s
- Positioning: How you position your company is critical to defining your company as credible and relevant enough to establish itself in the hearts and minds of consumers. All of the qualitative and quantitative research you’ve conducted will identify your organization’s positioning and enable you to move forward on building the remaining Ps.
- Promise: The promise of your brand establishes internal and external expectations and articulates your company’s positioning in a simple, straight-forward fashion. The promise is consistent for your corporate brand and the products and services your organization provides.
- Propositions: Brand propositions connect the brand with your target audiences on a rational level by supporting the brand while making it credible.
- Personality: Personality is what connects emotionally with audiences. Expressed in the tone, “voice” and style of communications, personality defines the unique traits of your brand. Their creative expression ensures your company is approachable, likable and respected.
- Presentation: The look and feel of the brand, which will be delivered consistently in all corporate communications assets, internal and external. Presentation includes logo design, color palette strategy, design style and design element relationships, custom iconography, photography/art style and other techniques and elements.
- Pipeline: The pipeline is your organization’s communications delivery system that includes advertising and collateral, public relations, community outreach events, association marketing and digital communications. Examine the relevance, marketing power and efficiency of the entire pipeline and develop a media-neutral communications plan that properly expresses your brand.
Having distilled the research and gone through the Six Ps exercise, the information you need to identify your UBI™ should be apparent and your brand creative exploratory process can begin.
The Brand Creative Brief
Using the UBI™ and Six Ps as your framework, write a brand creative brief and make sure it is approved by all your key stakeholders.
The brief should highlight:
- What stakeholders currently believe about your brand
- What you want them to believe about your brand
- Who your target audience is specifically
- What channels you will use to communicate
- What is the single most important point you need to make
- What are the supportive points
- Your 6Ps and UBI™
Strategic Planning and Your New Brand
With a smart brand that is true to your organization and aligned with your core values it’s easier to build a strategic plan that makes sense for your organization. This process ensures that your audiences perceive your brand in a way that moves your organization forward with the ultimate result of building internal and external proponents of your brand.
It is important to identify the unifying brand idea that will shape your strategic vision and plan. Before you go out to market with a campaign, ask yourself what people currently think of when they see your organization’s name. Then ask yourself what it is you want them to think.
Smart brands don’t just happen. They are built by people who know where the brand needs to go and who have the experience to take it there. For more information about building a powerful brand, please call Jeff Chesebro, President of Princeton Partners, at 609-452-8500 or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.