If branding is about steering a collectively held positive perception, what do you need to think about to steer your brand on the right course?
Itâ€™s time to get planning, thinking and looking objectively and creatively at your business!
Back to basics first
Get some of the basics clear. Who are you targeting, what do your customers need, what do they think, whatâ€™s on their agenda, what worries or delights them. Then take stock of your competitors. Have a good look. What are they doing well? What are they saying about themselves?
This sets a backdrop by which you can make decisions about the heart of your brand and the fit it has with your customers. For instance, your customers could be tech or gadget mad. They love the latest thing. Or they could be massively into design and their home appearance. Aesthetic is everything.
These are some of the areas to consider to ensure you know what sits at the heart of your business and brand:
Beliefs: What you feel strongly about matters, so beliefs are a lynchpin of any brand. Theyâ€™ll direct the way things are done.
Example: Take Dyson, they work relentlessly to innovate and bring the next great product â€“ they (or should I say Sir James?) believe youâ€™re only as good as youâ€™re last product.
His people, ethos, ways or working, adverts and products all ooze â€˜innovation and inventionâ€™ in support of that belief. Just see what his foundation gives back all in the name of those two important words: innovation and invention.
The result? People are persuaded to buy Dyson because (they believe) theyâ€™re getting a product thatâ€™s at the top of the innovation tree and are willing to pay for it.
Personality and behaviours
How your business behaves and acts influences all sorts of business decisions. How you pick up the phone, how you write, even what you put on the company van are all examples of how your brand behaviours can be directive.
On a very simple level a relaxed brand answers the phone with â€˜Helloâ€™, while a more formal and serious business might want to start with â€˜Good afternoonâ€™.
Examples: Going back to Dyson, they keep the focus on the product â€“ itâ€™s the be all and end all. Their personality is all about being exceedingly clever and inventive in a way thatâ€™s grounded in real life insight.
Itâ€™s why you feel safe buying their brand, because theyâ€™re so clever.
With that â€˜clever inventiveâ€™ personality trait as direction, it makes decisions about what to put on packaging easy: Dyson make the point that they patent everything they do because itâ€™s so advanced. Itâ€™s never been done, and so they canâ€™t be copied.
Itâ€™s why you get directional balls that go round corners easily, and unique looking fans with no finger slicing blades.
Outside views help
Hopefully you can see why some of the basic questions around your customers are so vital to help you judge how to steer your brand thinking. You can also hopefully start to see how these branding decisions drive so much of your marketing activity and decision-making.
This scratches the surface, and more detailed thinking and planning can be hard. Being your own judge with an ability to push your brand into new, stronger directions is difficult. Objective expertise can really help get the right result (and save on your thinking time too). The rewards of that thinking time are massive, so get thinking, get help if you need it.
JOHN HAYWARD RUNS HIS OWN CONSULTANCY, HAYWARD BRANDS, PROVIDING BRAND AND MARKETING CONSULTANCY FOR BUSINESSES IN THE UK. NEVER COMPLICATED, JUST CLEVERLY DONE.