Bryan Kramer

Posted on November 04, 2010 by Bryan Kramer 1

Solid Brands Start with Introspection

Solid Brands Start With Introspection

The next time you watch TV, listen to the radio, or click through Facebook, really pay attention to the message – especially for those businesses for which you already have an experience – and ask yourself: “Does the message they’re sending really match the experience that I had?” Albeit an industry buzzword you’ve surely heard before… what exactly constitutes a “brand?”

A Brand Demystified

There are two essential parts to a brand. The first is a reflection of the personality of your business, its values and traits. A good exercise is to pretend that your business is a person. Where would it vacation? What sport would it play? What would it wear? The second is the actual experience your customer has with your business. Was your receptionist rude? Was your delivery on time? Do you keep people on hold for 5 minutes? Believe it or not, all these components directly affect people’s perception of your brand personality.

User Experience + Message = Brand

The user experience with your company or product will leave a lasting impression, good or bad. A great example of a company who really pays attention to the integrity of both their corporate personality and the user experience is FedEx. They have built their company based setting to the end user very high, yet attainable and consistent expectations. For me, their brand value lies in knowing that the same FedEx delivery person will show up in his blue and orange uniform, always with a smile, whether we requested a pick-up via the telephone or the web. We always know our packages will get anywhere across the country, on time, every time. What an experience! To think about what goes on behind the scenes to make this a consistent expectation makes me appreciate the process and thought that went into building their brand. FedEx paid attention to their user experience, as well as supported their traditional communication channels, such as a functional web site and memorable TV ads (who doesn’t remember “When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight!”) to build and maintain their brand. Such a commitment makes it very clear, from the CEO to the delivery drivers, that projecting a positive brand is much more than simply working for a package pickup and delivery service.

Branding from the “bottom-up, and the inside out.”

When building or refreshing your brand platform for your company to grow, it is important to take a “bottom-up” approach so that your brand development stays focused. First start with your company vision. Where do you see yourself and your company in a year? Five years? 10 years? Go to town and have fun with this one, you might be surprised with the results. Second, identify your core values and a mission statement that support your direction. This is a good time for you to receive feedback from your employees, customers, investors, or clients. Information from these groups will help reshape your vision and build your mission, vision, and core values until you have a clear direction for your brand future. So now you have buy-in from your team of peers, and a portfolio of great information. What are you going to do with it?

There’s a reason why you double over when you’re kicked in the stomach.

Once your brand marketing plan has been identified, it is crucial to set realistic, proactive marketing goals that send the right message to support your brand personality. After all, reactive marketing not only costs you more money in the long run, it also leaves your brand equity in the dust. Pick three tactics you can accomplish, and then prioritize them, as they will add the most value for your company. For instance, choose marketing tactics that educate your current or potential customer gives them value and helps them remember your name. Or perhaps it is raising sales on a specific product or service via email marketing. In any case, make sure you build your marketing foundation to support these tactics. Then pick tactics that you can perform using the “Rules of Engagement” below.

Rules of Engagement

Here are four simple rules to live by when developing your brand and marketing strategy:

Rule #1: Consistency is key. Use your logo and tagline consistently so that everyone knows it’s you. Make sure your message and vision are conveyed in the creative execution of your tactics, then do it again. Test it out. Take all your current materials and lay them next to each other. If they look like they are all from a different company, you have some work to do.
Rule #2: Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. As you move through your tactics, trying something once will not work. Try everything at least three times.
Rule #3: Create impact. Make sure your messaging and design is unique and creates a lasting impression.
Rule #4: Mix it up. In order to stand out you have to try new things. Break the rules and definitely mix it up with the tactics you choose.

The Challenge

So some final questions to find your true brand personality. Is your advertising message consistent? Does this message, in conjunction with the user experience, leave your audience with a positive impression of your business? Most importantly, does this combination motivate them to purchase your product or service? Answer honestly these questions of your own business, and you’ll be on your way from the bottom-up to building a solid, smart and strategic brand that will build equity and your bottom line for years to come.

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