Brand is not merely a cool logo. Branding is about creating an appropriate image for, and experience with, your organization; and positively positioning your organization in your audience’s mind.
Effective branding grabs your target audience’s interest and helps them to realize that you are of value to them, and then nurtures an ongoing relationship.
Without an actual brand and content strategy and ongoing stewardship, even well-crafted promotions can fall flat and even alienate your audience.
Here are three criteria to follow when defining your brand and promoting what makes you distinct.
From your tagline to your corporate mission to the content on your website — what you say and how you say it is critical. What is the tone of your organization? Authoritative and instructional, understanding and guiding, carefree and irreverent… the goal is not simply to inform or impress, you should communicate with the intention of making relationships.
Consider your audience (which may include several distinct market segments) and try to engage with them in your writing and messaging. Even with different people creating content, each with their own voice, they can still infuse a corporate tone and positioning through their material. A branding strategy should explicitly outline the messaging objectives, desired corporate tone aa well as slogans and catch phrases.
For your audience to trust your organization, they need to identify or connect with you. Engage them with targeted content that is genuine and relevant to your company. Storytelling is a very effective means of communicating your message and brand, but that doesn’t mean telling tales. What you say and how you say it can provoke tremendous impact and stir emotion within readers; and they can usually tell when it is honest and legitimate.
Consider the User Experience
Whether your customer is on your website, on the phone or on-site, what do you want them to think of your organization? In addition to the branded identity and corporate messaging, does the environment reflect the essence of your organization? Do interactions with your company support your positioning?
The best logo and tagline will have little lasting effect if staff, service, store décor, website design, promotional email wording, etc., are not all aligned to reinforce the brand.
Considering what your brand represents as an experience supports your “story” and helps your audience engage with your organization. This leads to stronger relationships and greater loyalty.
The purpose of branding is to go beyond simply creating awareness, and recognition. The goal is to nurture a trusting and loyal relationship. It’s a comprehensive undertaking that requires consistent use of your branded identity, in all formats.
It all stems from your mission, vision, value statement unique selling proposition, any guiding principles for your organization. A thorough understanding of what drives your organization and what it has to offer is the essence of your brand.
Content generation provides many digital options (web pages, blogs, emails, social posts, ebooks and brochures, whitepapers, etc.) and is an influential means of attracting and reaching out to your audience. Consistency in template designs as well as voice/tone help build a strong foundation for your brand (keep that style guide close at hand!).
An editorial calendar maps out what content will be written, by whom, how it will be published, and when. It allows a strategic approach (ensuring consistency in both frequency and focus) and overview to ensure you are creating content that is of value to your audience as well as supporting your brand.
A brand strategy requires ongoing monitoring and attention. It’s part policing and part promoting. Don’t be overzealous or near-sighted in your regulation. In these fluid times, acknowledge that things change and your brand strategy and implementation will need to evolve to stay current and relevant.
For further info on how branding fits into your marketing and sales process, read Understanding the Branding – Marketing – Advertising – Sales Relationship.