Brand Starts and Ends at the Core

Gord Hotchkiss in MediaPost in an article on Brand Promises Vs. Brand Religions:

One thing that both these natures of brand have in common: ultimately they depend on the values, integrity and effectiveness of the organization that creates the brand. If the brand is a promise of a level of quality, you can’t break the promise with immunity, especially in a digitally amplified world of blogs, forums and buzz. Each of the “promise” brands I used as examples, GM, United and Microsoft, stand in danger of their promises losing all meaning with customers. A promise is only as good as the level of trust you’ve built with the recipient.

But if the brand is a religion, the culture of the organization becomes even more important. Irrational decision factors run amok: the perceived culture of the organization, how the brand label connects with who we are, the social circles it places us it, or the circles we wish it would place us in, the values the company stands for, the exclusivity of the brand. The brand relationship becomes a complex stew of beliefs and emotions. We only make this investment for brands that hold a unique position in our mindscape. We feel we have to get as much from the brand as we’re willing to give it in terms of our emotional loyalty. And if a brand doesn’t reciprocate, it is quickly downscaled from a religion to a passing fancy.

Seven Branding Secrets

In today’s competitive business climate it is important to differentiate your brand. A sound investment is defining and communicating what is truly special about your business. Your brand will bring you the success of your business and financial results through loyal and happy customers. Your brand will tell the world why they would be crazy not to do business with you.

Here is an interesting list, Michele Schermerhorn President of Online Business Institute Inc. has put together:

  1. Know Your Customers Better Than You Know Yourself
  2. Understand Your Competitive Environment & Competitors
  3. Define Your Brand Personality
  4. Make A Brand Promise
  5. Define Your Brand Strategy
  6. Identify Your Branding Game Plan
  7. Be Consistent in Action

Now, the second point is not the most commonly use when setting-up such branding rules lists, but I find it very true and usefull: Continue reading

5 Rules to Establish and Maintain Brand Awareness

Despite the fact that the hot ways to enhance your brand involve new media, business branding basics are still in style. Branding success will depend on adapting to the rapidly evolving media environment and taking advantage of new opportunities to reach your target audience.

But, there are some branding constants that will remain critical for establishing and maintaining brand awareness with your target audience. Regardless of the medium chosen for distribution, you must: Continue reading

Re-Branding and Employees Engagement

Continuing the engagement of the employees in internal branding, October issue of HRMagazin is running an extensive material on internal branding and its importance for the success of any re-branding efforts .

As the people who deliver the brand promise are employees, making sure they understand and can deliver the brand to customers is vital—especially for companies within the service industry, where the relationship between employees and customers essentially is the product the company sells.

Re-branding takes time. The planning process that produces a new brand can take as long as two years. Educating employees about the new brand, and its implications on the company and their work, can also last years. That effort typically starts several weeks to several months before the new brand is unveiled to customers and continues after the official unveiling to external audiences.

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3 Checkpoints in Creating a Slogan

BusinessWeek is running an interesting article, presenting three checkpoints in creating a slogan:

Try to create complementary relationships between your business [tag]name[/tag], its [tag]slogan[/tag], and other communications devices, such as the Web address. Avoid redundant messages. In other words, don’t pick a slogan that simply reiterates your company name. It should enhance and complement that primary statement about your company and provide would-be customers with new, positive information about you.

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When CEOs Are Part of the Brand

Branson, Gates, Jobs and the examples of CEOs that are part of their corporate brand equity can go on and on. Business Times has an insight on this:

A study by global communications company Burson Marsteller showed that the CEO’s reputation is responsible for approximately 50 per cent of a company’s reputation, which translates into achieving key business objectives and increasing sales.Like it or not, CEOs are part of a company’s brand equity. In other words, the leaders inevitably reflect on the company.

Today, consumers expect a consistency between a company’s brand message and the behaviour and image of its key executives. Brand validity can only be fully achieved if the CEO embodies the brand and its values to meet the new challenges of an increasingly critical and demanding marketplace.

The CEO is often said to be the brand leader or guardian of the company’s brand. Consequently, all CEOs need to clearly understand the value and importance of the powerful, clearly defined corporate and personal brands. They need to ensure that there should be a clear brand strategy in place and that all stakeholders in the organisation understand and embrace it to deliver the brand promise.

5 Components of a Brand Promise

Brands are so much a part of our lives that we forget how much we depend on them. We use brands as shorthand to make our trips to the grocery store easier; we use brands to reassure us about our purchasing decisions; we even use brands to define ourselves in society.

A brand is a promise. A kept promise. With a brand, you set customer expectations. When someone buys your product or service, they count on those expectations to be fulfilled.

The components of your brand promise are based on:

Consistency of experience.

This is the absolute critical component in building a brand. Whether I go into a McDonald’s in Boise or Beijing, I expect my french fries to taste the same, and I expect to see those golden arches.

Consistent look-and-feel.

At the most basic level, to build a brand you must develop a strong brand image. You know you are in a Starbucks even if you don’t see the name over the door. Consistent look-and-feel extends to your logo, colors, typefaces, decor, employee clothing, and more.

Consistent quality.

It’s not enough to deliver a consistent experience to your customer. The experience must also be of a certain level of quality. McDonald’s french fries don’t have to be the best french fries in the world, but they have to be good french fries and they have to be fresh every time.

Distinct competitive position.

A brand must stand for something and differentiate you from the competition. Three strong brands of superstores have very different competitive positions: Wal-Mart, low prices; Target, hip discount. These positions make it easy for a consumer to choose the brand that suits them.

Repeated exposure.

To remember your brand, customers must hear it or see it over and over. Of course, building brand awareness takes money, and that’s a challenge if you are a small company. The key is to clearly and narrowly define your target market. Then, make sure those potential customers see you many times by repeatedly advertising in the same publications and attending the same networking events.

Brand System – The Experience

As mentioned before, experience is the third step in defining Brand as a System. Brand experience is the aggregate of consumer perceptions that come from interacting with a brand.

The process of exposing consumers to the various attributes associated with a particular brand, a successful brand experience creates an environment in which the consumer will be surrounded by the positive elements attached to the brand.

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