When people talk about “brand,” they’re often referring to what you can see: a logo, the color palette, typefaces and/or taglines. But, logos, colors, type fonts and taglines are mere signposts to a brand; “brand” is so much more than that. It's what sort of experience you offer and how you relate to customers. It’s even how your employees answer the phone. Best put, your brand is your company's/product’s personality, as perceived across your target marketplace.
Brand is powerful – way more powerful than many will acknowledge. In a world or choices, it is what makes people prefer and choose one product, service on company over another. That’s true even when there are no, discernible, real differences when products are like coffee. The look, the price and the taste often are the same from brand to brand. That being the case, what influences the buying decision? Often, it’s what’s ON the cup – the name and the label. (Hello, Starbucks) Why? Because, through marketing, word-of-mouth and other influential media, we often identify with and prefer some brands over others – we become aware of and attached to them, because we see ourselves in their reflection; they make us feel something special, differentiated, signature about ourselves and our lives or about the impression they confer about us to others.
Could a cup influence coffee purchase decisions?
When it comes to attracting and keeping customers, clearly, “brand” is hugely powerful. I mean, how many people would choose Starbucks over “Brand B,” even when Brand B might be tastier, fresh roasted, less expensive etc., because the brand has acquired such a cachet, such prestige? But the actual brand is way more substantive than just what a company says about itself or how its graphics look. A brand – YOUR
brand – is really more a reflection of how – and how consistently, credibly,
reliably – people feel that you deliver as promised. Your brand is really a reflection of your reputation in your broader marketplace, based on what past and present customers/clients say and feel about their interactions and experiences with you, your products, services and people.
That’s why having a cogent, reality-based brand strategy is so essential to continuity of positive, brand awareness and success. Because your brand strategy is your holistic “battle plan” for making sure your customers continue to perceive and respond to your brand as you strategically want them to do.
Getting a brand strategy together is usually the first thing we at ROI do for new clients. Sometimes (for an existing brand), the first step is a “deep dive” brand audit to help us and you understand how external audiences (past, present, prospective customers) and internal audiences (senior leadership, middle management, staff and other stakeholders) perceive and describe the brand and its attributes against what we learn from our own, dispassionate research. From that analysis we can see areas of consensus and disagreement and identify where we need to do “brand triage” to reach true consensus.
Once the analysis is completed and you/we are confident that you have your “brand bearings,” it’s time to develop a comprehensive brand
strategy – the forward plan for how you will refocus, reassert, expand targeted awareness of the brand to underscore engagement and sales growth. The plan must be a detailed, actionable roadmap toward where
you want your brand to go what you want it to represent in the future.
Building that plan is a lot of work; but it’s essential work that will promote measurable success. By stepping back to evaluate and, as necessary, reorient your brand messaging, images, graphics etc., and to rethink your strategy, you’ll start building a strong(er) brand. And a good strategy will underscore and infuse everything you do with regard to marketing and sales with the smartest, possible thinking.
We describe ROI with a wink as, “the agency that’s completely full of BS.” Of course, you know that we mean “Brand Strategy.” In a world where many are in (too big!) a hurry to get going and succeed, they often initiate out of sequence, “Ready, fire, aim!” marketing plans and tactics that fail to deliver. Conversely, we at ROI are wedded to a process-driven, “Ready, aim, fire” approach that follows time-proven steps toward measured success. We are firm believers in the foundational value of brand strategy, and we are ready, willing and able to help our clients develop and implement their own.
And that’s no BS!