20
Nov

the marketer’s guide to developing a strong corporate and brand identity

The Marketer’s Guide to Developing a Strong Corporate and Brand Identity

Written by Lindsay Kolowich | @lkolow

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Chances are, if someone mentions GoPro, you think of a super-sturdy camera for the adventurous.

Why’s that? Because GoPro has done a good job defining its brand. Great brands like GoPro are easy to recognize. Their missions are clear, and they foster that customer loyalty all businesses crave.

A brand is one of the most valuable assets of a business, and it needs to be carefully crafted to ensure it properly and authentically represents the business.

Crafting a brand is a shared endeavor, though. Customers, employees, blog readers (sound familiar?), and anyone who interacts with a business has a role in shaping the brand, which is why we’ve created a very short survey to see what HubSpot means to you. Because what it means to you will help us deliver on your expectations. (We’ll get to that a little later in the post.)

Do you know how your brand is doing? Does your business have a brand identity?

If it doesn’t, or your brand isn’t as strong as it could be, follow along with this post. Branding may seem like a fluffy concept, but we’re going to try to put some structure around it so any marketing team can get started defining their brand strategy.

For more tips about brand identity development, download our free branding guide here.

What is brand identity?

A brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers,” according the American Marketing Association. Your brand identity is the representation of your company’s reputation through the conveyance of attributes, values, purpose, strengths, and passions.

It includes what your brand says, what its values are, how you communicate its concepts, and which emotions you want your customers to feel when they interact with your business. As Jeff Bezos says, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

The Brand Identity Prism

To help illustrate brand identity with a more holistic view of a brand, an internationally recognized corporate branding specialist named Jean-Noel Kapferer created a model he called the “Brand Identity Prism.” The Brand Identity Prism illustrates six aspects of brand identity: physique, personality, culture, relationship, reflection, and self-image.

Image Credit: Salman Abedin

According to the model, the synthesis of each of these elements is what drives a brand’s success. Here’s what each of them means:

1) Physique is the recognizable, physical aspect of the brand.

It includes the logo, color scheme, packaging, and the online spaces and communities. If we’re talking about Coca-Cola, it’s stuff like the logo, the cursive font, the shape of its flagship glass bottle, and so on.

2) Personality is the brand’s character.

It’s how the brand communicates with the outside world. This might be expressed in a certain writing style or voice, design style, color scheme, and even by way of celebrity endorsements. Coca-Cola’s personality is happy, playful, refreshing, and all about sharing and having a good time.

3) Culture is the value system and basic principles on which a brand bases its behavior.

There is an intimate connection between a brand’s culture and its organization. Coca-Cola’s culture is based around socializing and sharing.

4) Relationship refers to the relationship between people that a brand might symbolize.

One example would be a relationship between a mother and child, or among friends. Coca-Cola symbolizes an equal and friendly relationship among people in a community.

5) Reflection refers to the reflection of the consumer; in other words, the brand’s most stereotypical buyer.

While a company might have multiple buyer personas, this is the “top” type of buyer. For Coca-Cola, this might be 15-18-year-olds who value fun, friendships, and sports, although Coca-Cola’s target audience is much broader.

6) Self image is the consumer’s ideal self.

It’s kind of like a mirror the target persona holds up to him or herself. Marketers and advertisers can draw on their target audience’s self image to direct their strategy and approach. A Coca-Cola drinker, for example, might see him or herself as social, communicative, and the type of person who seeks adventure and pushes boundaries.

Now that you have a better idea of what brand identity is, let’s talk about how it applies to your branding strategy.

Determine Where Your Company Sits in the Market

Before you attempt to define your brand, you need to do some exploration. Take a long look at your company to get a clear picture of its purpose and place. The familiar SWOT analysis can help, actually. Here’s what each letter of the acronym stands for:

  • Strengths: Characteristics of the business or project that give it an advantage over others.
  • Weaknesses: Characteristics that place the team at a disadvantage relative to others.
  • Opportunities: Elements that the project could exploit to its advantage.
  • Threats: Elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project.

When you do a SWOT analysis, you should involve everyone in your company, as well as some of your best (and worst — yes, your worst!) customers. This can be done with a simple survey that asks questions that get at the four points in the SWOT analysis. Or if you prefer, it can be achieved with an in-depth research survey and audit that looks at your brand awareness, usage, attributes, and even purchase intent. They are typically performed by an outside firm … but more on that later. You can also download our SWOT analysis template.

However you gather the information, once you get it, you should be able to sit down with your marketing team and clearly state your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Once you have a clear understand of your SWOT, it’s time to define your brand.

 

20
Nov

How to build a strong brand

How to build a strong brand

A key element of strategy planning should involve the development of your brand and how you would like to be perceived.

When designing a brand strategy, this is the first question you should ask:

What is your unique selling proposition?

Consider all aspects of the marketing mix and examine what makes your business unique and attractive to the consumer. If these factors lead to a competitive advantage then you have determined your Unique Selling Points, or USPs. These USPs are major contributory factor to what makes your business successful, so should form the central theme to your brand strategy. Most brands concentrate on several of the most powerful and easily communicated proposition benefits in order to create a clearly understood brand message.

Brand values

USPs are why customers are currently buying your products and form the basis of your company ‘brand values’. However, brand values should constantly evolve to suit changing market conditions and should also reflect your forward looking business strategy. Once these are established, it’s important to ensure that your customer experience reflects these values in every aspect of your business. This means tailoring every element of the marketing mix to project your brand values – from the staff you use, the products you produce, the messages on your advertising, and even the way you handle complaints. Building a respected brand can take a lot of hard work and you’ll need the commitment from your employees and stakeholders to make it happen.

Example brand values: Zurich

We demonstrate total customer dedication Our starting point is the needs and expectations of our customers
We’re pioneers We innovate continuously and explore new options with creativity
We excel in all we do We aim for the highest quality, particularly in activities with the greatest value potential
We encourage everyone to contribute Every employee counts
We act with integrity We test every proposed action to see whether it is proper and reflects standards we can be proud of

Remember, a brand exists in the mind of the consumer. It is the intangible sum of thoughts and feelings about a particular company, service or product. A company can steer how a brand is perceived by never has full control.

“A brand exists in the mind of the consumer”

A brand is be represented tangibly by branding, which allows the customer to easily identify a product using an identity which sometimes formalised in a corporate identity document. This can include the colour scheme, logo, slogans, typeface and can go into depth of how these all work together. Successful branding focuses on the company brand values which should be obvious from the promotional materials.

“Brands are powerful influencing tools”

Brands can be very powerful influencing tools, but only once they have been established – and it can take time to build up the necessary trust. When a customer has made up their mind it’s often very hard to persuade them to think differently.

Benefits of a strong brand

  • It will add value to a company
  • Requires less persuasion for consumers to use other products from the same brand
  • Can ensure a lasting customer relationship due to trust
  • It aids recognition in a cluttered marketplace
  • Has the ability to command a premium
  • Allows differentiation between very similar products, for example still mineral water
  • Can attract merchandising contracts
  • Leads to the perception of quality

There are two core elements to a strong brand – emotional value and practical value. Get these two right and your brand will quickly grow.

However, a brand can be damaged much quicker than it can grow – five things that will quickly damage your brand include:

  • Untrustworthy behaviour
  • Concern about public safety or health
  • Poor customer service (at any level)
  • Obvious company financial difficulty
  • Poor quality products

Get the balance right and your business will go from strength to strength.

Final words

If you still doubt the power of a successful brand, consider Evian mineral water. All bottled mineral waters are essentially the same product – they’ll all quench your thirst and taste pretty much exactly the same. However the strength of the Evian brand in the UK means they can charge significantly more than the cheapest alternatives. This ability to charge more due to a strong brand is known as brand equity and is a valuable contributing factor towards the value of any business.

20
Nov

The Basics of Branding

The Basics of Branding

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both, and you can’t be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials–all of which should integrate your logo–communicate your brand.

Brand Strategy & Equity

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.

Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product–and customers will pay that higher price.

The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe.

Defining Your Brand

Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider leveraging the expertise of a nonprofit small-business advisory group or a Small Business Development Center .

Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:

  • Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
  • Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
  • Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
  • Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
  • Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.
  • Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
  • Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.