fm BrandingStrategyInsider.com 08/15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
Branding is a strong tool for creating a business image – inside & outside. There are10 crucial steps on the way to a successful strategy, and they can serve as a useful guide for any branding effort.
1. The Founder/CEO needs to lead the Brand Strategy effort. The starting point for branding must be the board room, which is also serving as the most important check-point during the effort. The CEO must be personally involved in the brand strategy work, and s/he must be passionate and fully promote the idea of branding. To ensure success despite the daily & stressful routine with many duties at the same time, the CEO must be backed by a strong team of senior contributors, who can facilitate a continuous development & integrate the new strategy.
2. Build your own Model, as not every model suits all. All companies have their own specific requirements, own sets of business values & a unique way of doing things. Therefore, even the best – & most comprehensive – branding models have to be tailored to these needs & requirements. Often, only a few – but important adjustments – are needed to align them with other similar business models & strategies in the company.
3. Involve all your Stakeholders. Who knows more about your company than the customers, the employees, investors & other stakeholders? This is common sense, but many companies forget these simple and easily accessible sources of valuable information for the branding strategy. A simple rule is to use at least 5% of the marketing budget on research to obtain a picture of the current business landscape including the current brand image among stakeholders & brand positioning.
4. Promote your Vision. The branding strategy is an excellent channel for advancing the Vision throughout the company. It allows the management to involve, educate & align everyone around the mission, objectives, values & vision. It provides focus and leads everyone in the same direction. The internal efforts are at least 50% of making a branding strategy successful.
5. Exploit new Technology. Modern technology should play a part of a successful branding strategy. Technology helps to gain effectiveness & improve the competitive edge. A well-designed and fully updated Intra-net is a must, in today’s working environment – which has become increasingly virtual with employees working from home, other locations & traveling across the globe etc. An Extra-net can facilitate a much more seem-less integration with strategic partners, suppliers & customers, avoid time consuming paper work & manual handling of many issues. A Website is not only a must, but rather a crucial channel for any modern business. If a business is not accessible on the Internet, it does not exist. The more professional the Website, the better the perception among the Internet-savvy modern customer.
6. Empower people to become Brand Ambassadors. The most important asset in a corporation is its people. They do interact every day with colleagues, customers, suppliers, industry experts & even competitors sometimes. But they also interact with an impressive number of people totally disconnected to the business, in the form of family members, friends, former colleagues & many others. Hence, they serve as the businesses most important brand ambassadors as the word-of-mouth can be extremely valuable and have great impact on the overall image of the brand image. The most effective way to turn employees into brand ambassadors is to train everyone adequately in the corporate brand strategy (vision, values, culture, etc.) and making sure they fully understand – and believe! – what exactly the business aims at being – in the minds of its customers & stakeholders. Nike is a brand which is known for their efforts into educating and empowering everyone employed by the company to be strong brand ambassadors.
7. Create the right Delivery system. Your brand is the face of the business strategy and basically it promises what all stakeholders should expect from it. Therefore, the delivery of the right products & services – with all the implications entail – should be carefully scrutinized & evaluated on performance before starting your branding effort. Think of the “cradle to grave” concept of a lifelong customer + the value s/he will provide in such a time span. Make sure s/he is handled with outstanding care according to internal & external guidance. The moment of truth is when the brand promise is delivered well – especially if the corporation exceeds the customer expectation.
8. Communicate the goals of your Branding. Bring your brand to life through a range of well-planned, well-executed marketing activities, and make sure the overall messages are consistent, clear & relevant to the target audiences. Make sure the various messages are concise & easy to comprehend. Do not try to communicate every single point from the corporate branding strategy. Instead, a selective approach will make much more impact using the same resources.
9. Measure your Brand “performance”. How much value does it provide to your business & how instrumental is the brand in securing your advantage? These are some of the questions which need to be answered and which the CEO will automatically seek, as part of his/her commitment to maintain the strategy successfully. The brand equity consists of various individually tailor-made key performance indicators (including the financial brand value) and needs to be tracked regularly. A brand Score Card can help facilitating an overview of the brand equity & the progression – as the strategy is implemented.
10. Adjust relentlessly & Raise your Bar continually. The business landscape is changing almost every day in every industry. Hence, you need to evaluate & possibly adjust the branding strategy on a regular basis. Obviously, a brand should stay relevant, differentiated & consistent throughout time, so it is a crucial balance. The basic parts of the branding strategy like vision, identity, & values are not to be changed often as they are the basic components. The changes are rather small & involve the thousands of daily actions & inter-personal behaviors, which you employ as part of the brand marketing efforts. But make sure complacency does not take root in your organization & affects the goal setting. The strong brands are the ones – which are driven forward by owners – whom never get tired of raising their own bars. They become their own change agents – and their own brand champions for great brands.
Comments: Do you have any other thoughts on Branding, that you’d like to add?