A vital component of entrepreneurial business growth is the development of your brand. A company’s brand is all encompassing; it’s used to identify and differentiate your products or services from everything and everybody else. It can be a word, symbol, slogan, acronym, packaging, color, etc.
The first step in building your brand is to determine the role that it will play in communicating your corporate message to consumers, employees, and suppliers.
What is your brand’s unique message or goal?
These questions can help you reach your answer:
- What is your mission, purpose, or value? The brand is the corporate rallying flag and represents the culture of the company.
- How can you build brand loyalty? The goal of your brand is to capture customers early in their lifetime and hold onto them forever. For example, consider Starbucks, Coke, or Apple—each of these companies have established large followings of committed brand advocates.
- How can you best convey your message or commitment? The brand’s promise is to build trust with the customer; for example, Allstate’s “In Good Hands” slogan.
After you determine how your brand fits into your corporate strategy, your next step is to schedule a brand-planning meeting to develop your positioning. The exact attendees needed for this meeting will vary based on your product or service, but it typically involves your CEO, senior sales and marketing teams, outside sales and marketing consultants and advisors, trademark counsel, and maybe even some of your biggest target customers.
Here’s a sample agenda you can use during a brand evaluation and positioning meeting:
- What is the history of perceptions and uses of the company’s brand(s)?
- What have been consistencies (or inconsistencies) in the application or usage of the brand(s) – i.e., the brand(s) as a manifestation of the company’s character and personality?
- How do different departments within the organization see the vision and strategy for the brand? Consider the views from leadership, down.
- What are the strategic, financial, and marketing goals for the brand(s)?
- What are the current core and extended customer perceptions of the company’s current brand(s)?
- What value proposition(s) do the brand(s) represent?
- Are the goals for the brand(s) aligned with current internal and external perceptions?
- What role does the brand play in decision making of current and targeted customers or channel partners?
- What tools are being used to convey and maintain the branding message(s)?
- How does the branding strategy fit into other programs in place to increase customer loyalty and drive new revenue streams?
- How can the company brand(s) be managed as corporate assets (brands as standalone assets versus mere marketing tools)?
- In what form(s) does the brand(s) manifest itself (e.g., words, symbols, slogans, shapes, spokesperson, sounds, jingles, etc)?
The amount of information bombarding customers daily has grown exponentially over the last decade. Your brand has a very short window to capture the attention of customers and prospects—and you have even less time to share your message with them. Make sure your brand identity is strong enough to get the job done.
Want more insights from Andrew Sherman? Check out the latest SMB Experts podcast episode, Are Your Employees Happy, where Andrew discusses how to keep your workforce engaged and performing at their best.