As Walter Landor memorably stated: “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”
As marketing communications experts we’re often asked to advise clients to develop or improve the strength of their brand. There is no simple answer to this complex creative process but the following guidelines will hopefully help you along the way to building a powerful brand.
1. You already have a brand
Whether you like it or not you already have a brand. Your existing and potential customers will already have a set of opinions and attitudes they associate with your organisation. These could be good, bad or indifferent, but unless you actively manage your brand you have no way of influencing the way people think about you.
2. It’s not just the logo
Your logo is an expression of your brand, it’s not your brand per se. Your brand is a combination of your organisation’s vision and values and the way you interact with your audiences and stakeholders. Asking a designer to refresh your brand is not the way to go about strengthening your brand.
3. “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
Before you start making changes find out what your audience thinks about your brand. That means research. Work with a market research expert to establish audience attitudes to your brand. What do they associate you with? How does your brand make them feel? What do they like or dislike about you? What would they like your brand to stand for? You may already be in great shape so little additional work is required. Sadly this is usually not the case. Most importantly accept what the research tells you and be prepared to act on it.
4. Run a brand day
Work hard to establish what makes you special? Get a range of people from across your business to a brand day where you discuss the research findings and establish the ‘proof points’ that underpin your key brand values. We run brand days to help clients through this process using a tool called the Brand Wheel.
5. What can you do for me?
Capture the learning from the brand day in a touchstone report that captures the elements of your culture and values. This should state your brand essence and express it in a compelling brand tagline. Great brands tend to have great and memorable taglines. Aldi’s: ‘Spend a little live a lot’ says it all in a memorable and effective way.
6. Make it look good
Now is the time to call in the designers. Make sure your brand essence is reflected in your graphic style. Create a set of brand guidelines that ensure your brand is delivered consistently across all you communications channels so that your audiences have a consistent and memorable experience of your brand.
7. It’s a team effort
Your people are your biggest brand asset. Make sure they understand what the brand stands for and how they should behave to ensure your audience’s experience of your brand is consistently positive. This requires a good internal comms campaign and regular reminders and updates.
8. Call the brand police
Appoint a senior member of the marketing or management team to ensure the rules are enforced. You’ve done the hard work so why let poor delivery undervalue your efforts. They can police the execution of the brand and correct any lazy or incorrect usage.
Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to developing a powerful brand. But always remember great brands are often intangible as the following quote from Amir Kassaei implies: “A brand is not a product or a promise or a feeling. It’s the sum of all the experiences you have with a company.”
Pelican Communications are specialists in the environment, food and drink, outdoor and leisure and packaging sectors and offer a range of services such as media relations, brand management, event management and people development. Contact us for marketing and communications expertise.