In the melee of today’s commercial cut and thrust, there’s nothing like a good, solid brand to watch your back for you. A shipshape and hearty brand will protect your business from attack by predatory competitors, pull in precious buyers and unite your people behind a single powerful idea.
Here are ten tips to ensure your brand is well engineered and perfectly tuned for max performance:
First, define what your brand actually stands for. Identify your business’s strengths, attributes and uniqueness: these will form the wireframe of your brand. Express them as a set of brand values: words or ideas that describe the fundamental, unchanging beliefs of your business. Boil down your proposition to a short and snappy elevator statement. Distil it still further to a one-liner: the essence of your brand.
Second, find a good design partner to help craft your new brand. There are thousands of willing agencies out there, but they won’t all be right for you. Look for experience in your sector, and people who understand marketing as well as design. Set a realistic budget and be willing to share all your secrets: a good agency will ask difficult questions!
Third, understand who your customers are, and how they interact with your brand. Create personas that typify your customers and showcase their pains and needs. Make your brand attractive to them so it encourages them to buy.
Four, get to grips with the big bad world out there. Pinpoint where your brand competes for mindshare and market-share. What does the market look like now and how is it changing? What are your arch rivals up to? Position your brand so it differentiates your business.
Five, make your brand roadworthy for the future. Where do you want your business to be in the next 12, 24 or 60 months? Will you be exploring new sectors or geographies? Avoid the expense of chopping and tweaking your brand time after time by planning ahead.
Six, keep it consistent. Consistency in your brand’s look, feel, application, tone of voice, messaging and imagery will reinforce its meaning, and make it easier to recall. Apply simple rules and stick to them.
Seven, police how your brand is used. Draw up written guidelines that enshrine your brand and document its correct usage. Appoint brand guardians to keep control and prevent misuse. Register trademarks where possible.
Number eight, get more than one perspective. Creativity is a subjective beast so test your ideas on friends, colleagues or trusted customers. You don’t have to resort to expensive focus groups to see how people respond differently to your prototype brand. Don’t be afraid to be challenged.
Nine, adapt and evolve. The law of the jungle dictates the fittest survive by adapting successfully. Don’t preserve your brand in formaldehyde: allow it to grow over time. Keep it fresh and relevant.
And finally, live it. Your brand and your business should be symbiotic. Keep your people onside with your brand’s values and the behaviours they engender. Without the support of your employees your brand is just a hollow promise. So help them to live it and love it.