A brand encapsulates everything about a company from its culture to market position. So how do you implement a solid branding strategy that drives your business goals? Here are seven simple steps for success.
Step 1: Identify Your Positioning
Take a step back, think about how you stand out and find what makes you unique. It’s not about where your brand fits into the market but where your products, services and company culture are positioned.
To understand how positioning works, let’s have a look at one of the world’s most valuable brands: Google. Its products and services are high-end and easy-to-use and the company culture is innovative and aspirational. Google’s branding strategy reflects its market positioning and the company is known for its exploitation of brand positioning.
Google uses its high-end innovative company culture, services and products to create a unique brand experience that evokes customer dreams and aspirations. Its brand positioning reflects the pinnacle of achievement. The brand is bold, brash and embodies the bleeding-edge of technology. The proper leveraging of this positioning by Google has given the brand incredible valuable.
So how do you find your company’s positioning? The first thing you should do is identify and document what makes your company unique. For example, “our products are the most durable and reasonably priced in the market and the company is the most stable”. This is your USP or unique selling proposition, and you’ll need it in the next step.
Step 2: Leverage Your USP
A vital component of a solid branding strategy is using your USP once you’ve documented it. All the brand assets should follow the USP and implementing this into your marketing is paramount. Immersion into your market is key and is one of the most important brand manager skills.
Once you’ve defined your USP, the brand assets should reflect it. For instance, if your company and its products represent simplicity and your USP is that you make your customers’ lives easier then you should design a minimalist logo, your color scheme would only have a few options and the key messaging needs to be concise.
Once you’ve created all your brand assets and guidelines, document everything in a brand guide that’s available to everyone in the company. You’ll need it for the next step.
Step 3: Implement Internally
You understand your brand, created the logos, key messaging and other brand assets. Now it’s time to roll out your brand inside the company. Ideally, you should have buy-in from other departments during the ideation process, but it’s not always possible to have everyone in the company involved so you’ll need to distribute all the pertinent information.
When you first roll-out the brand, you’ll want to inform everyone about the brand guide and explain the processes behind it. This is a vital part of branding workflows (more on that soon). Be sure that everyone gets informed about the branding guidelines. You’ll need to refer to it from time to time.
Empower brand ambassadors; they are your line to other departments when you need to implement your brand strategy. Make sure these representatives have the tools they need to promote the brand internally. You may want to designate someone as the brand manager. This person will be instrumental for your next step.
Step 4: Actualize Across All Channels
How does the public interact with your brand? Hopefully, there are multiple touch points you’ve already established. What you need to do now is communicate your new brand across all your channels.
One common mistake is forgetting some of the channels you use to communicate with the public. You may have more than you think: look into it. Maybe someone is using a social media channel you’re not aware of. Are old displays being used at events? Get an overview before you start realizing your branding strategy.
Once you have a good overview, introduce (or reintroduce) your brand to the public with something to offer them. It might be a giveaway or maybe some great content. Whatever it is, you need to give the public something of value with your brand release. Once you’ve made the introduction you’ll need to implement your new brand into the company workflows.
Step 5: Build Branding Workflows
Your colleagues need to implement your branding strategy into their normal workflows effortlessly for it to be effective. And technology has made creating branding workflows easier than ever. Be sure to use the latest innovations like digital asset management in your brand management strategy to maximize the effectiveness of your branding efforts.
A digital asset management system, or DAM, is an essential solution for maintaining brand consistency. A DAM is a central location for you to create, store, share and secure all your images, video, articles and just about everything else. You’ll want to store all the brand assets in your DAM to be sure everyone has access to them.
When you place digital asset management at the center of your branding efforts you’ll have a good overview of your branding. For instance, you can put approvals for assets in the DAM to ensure everyone is using only approved assets. You could also keep your logos and brand colors in a sharable folder within the system. That way, when you need to work with externals like designers and copywriters, you can easily share the brand assets with them.
Step 6: Measure Effectively and Regularly
So how do you show how your branding strategy was effective? You’ll need to measure it accurately before, during and after implementation. Remember, almost everything can be quantified in modern marketing.
There are many different factors that could be measured to see whether your new branding strategy was worth the effort. For instance, you could measure conversions on landing pages, opening rates for CRM emails or social media shares. Tie these into your new branding by getting a baseline before your branding strategy is actualized.
You should also take control of your own tracking by becoming proficient with free tools like Google Analytics. There’s even a Google Analytics Academy certification course, and it’s free. And if you need some help there are companies that measure the effectiveness of branding. Whatever you do, just remember to measure effectively. You may need to justify your efforts in the future.
Step 7: Continually, and Gradually, Adjust Your Branding Strategy
As your market matures, so should your branding strategy. Remember, the brand itself never changes, just the things surrounding it like the logo, design or key messaging. Sometimes these need to adjust to real market changes. Perhaps you may need to reposition yourself in the market or your business goals change.
As you adjust your brand strategy, ensure you uphold the brand consistency standards while evolving. And be sure to involve the entire company once again. You could identify new champions, ambassadors and think about reassigning the brand manager position.