Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hook a Ship-Shape Brand in 2014!

Hook a Ship-Shape Brand in 2014!

Yes it’s a brand new year, and while thousands of people are working on personal resolutions to get in shape, why not seize this opportunity and make 2014 the year you get your brand in shape.

Lets start with your current brand and understanding how important it is to your business success.  The reality is, good, bad or indifferent, your brand defines your business! The essence of your brand is the first thing that comes to mind when someone sees your logo or thinks of your company.  It takes a time, work and consistent effort to create a positive brand, however it takes surprisingly less effort to damage or weaken a brand.

Maintenance is always easier than rebuilding!

Why not invest a little time and effort right now to maintain your brand, rather than wait for the costly alternative of rebuilding a brand that has been neglected or ignored and has grown weak and out of shape.

The first step to get your brand in shape is to revisit  exactly what it is you provide to your customers. Keep in mind, this is more than just a product, it should be the idea at the heart of your business; the thing that makes you stand out from your competition, this 'big idea' is your brand vision.

Once you have a clearly defined what you offer, spend some time examining how you deliver it. The answer to ‘how’ also has an important role to play in the overall brand experience and creates expectations for both new and existing customers.

Don’t be Afraid to ask Questions

Don’t let being afraid of the answer prevent you from asking the right questions when it comes to your brand. Remember your brand must reflect what your customers and employees really think about your business in order to be credible, so take some time and ask questions. 

Ask customers and staff to tell you what they like and dislike about your business, you need to understand what people honestly think of your brand and what they are saying about it when you aren’t in the room, after all you can’t fix or improve things if you don’t know what isn't working well.

When you compare what people think with your brand vision, any gaps or discrepancies that appear, shine a spotlight on the areas you should start to work on first.

Once the gaps are identified you can put a plan in place to address each point one by one. When your plans are ready to roll out, put your marketing team to work communicating your brand vision and values to your customers, suppliers and staff. 

Engage Staff

A new logo or clever tagline is only one small piece of your brand. The truth is your brand also has a voice, a personality, a reputation and much more. Successful branding will require you to embed all of these elements of your brand into every aspect of your business, not just your marketing and advertising efforts.

As you work to get your brand in shape your success depends on  being able to demonstrate the brand across all your areas of your business, from product design to advertising, events, partnerships, customer service and even your internal culture. 

If this seems like too much to tackle on your own, you're right it is! Successful branding depends on your whole team. Invest time to bring your employees on board with your brand, they need to understand the brand and the role they play in achieving and maintaining the brand vision. Your employees can be your most passionate brand ambassadors when you arm them with brand knowledge and empower them to act on it! 

Use it or Lose it!

Now that your brand is in shape you need to commit to keeping it in tip-top form! Develop processes that will monitor your customer's response to the brand and review how your brand values are being communicated. Keep staff engaging by regularly discussing brand values and vision and work to keep them aware of how this impacts their work. Ensure they remain committed to delivering on the brand promise at every opportunity to every customer, supplier or stakeholder.

The ongoing maintenance of your brand may require external ‘resources’ too. You may need to rework your company's website, revise or create new promotional and sales materials, signage and packaging or enhance your advertising and public relations efforts. 

If you do not have the resources internally to support all of this work you may want to create a budget now for external support in 2014.

The Final Word 

Remember when it comes to your brand always aim to over deliver! If you fail to deliver just once on your brand promise it could cause costly damage to your brand.

If you would like to talk more about how to get your brand in shape in 2014 you can email our team or call us directly at 403-249-2623.

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