Brand Management Basics A company’s brand, everything from the use of color, design, photographs, language style, personality, logo and taglines builds a specific and calculated image of the company it represents. These characteristics give a clear idea of how the company behaves, looks, talks and feels. Just like a person, a company has a brand personality from which people make judgments about whether to use (and how often to use) their products and services.
When your company’s brand is conveyed consistently, your customers become familiar with you, begin to set levels of expectation when they interact with your brand and your relationship begins to deepen. When trust is established, customers find that they enjoy working with you and even miss you if you haven’t interacted in a while. So in terms of customer relationship management (CRM), branding done correctly and consistently can be a very powerful tool.
Brand Personality One important component of brand development that’s often neglected is brand personality. Too often, we encounter a company that thinks that a new logo in itself is their brand. These companies fail to fully develop ALL aspects of their brand, and subsequently their message is disconnected and even confusing when it reaches their customer.
Many of the most powerful and respected brands spend a great deal of time injecting personality into their brands (Apple, Starbucks, even retail giants like Sears and JCPenney). They know that people buy emotionally and connect with a brand personally. As brands grow, it is the emotional dimension that breeds loyalty, and is most often the decisive factor in how a consumer chooses one brand over another. So however you package the story you choose to tell to sell your product or service, tell the story with personality and make that emotional connection.
Developing your Brand’s Personality Personality, whether it’s a person or a company, is determined by the beliefs and values possessed and the characteristics developed as the personality matures. As a brand develops its personality, its traits begin to emerge. Choose only a few to emphasize: should it be your products, processes, people, technology, speed, location, or another attribute? These traits will shape your look, tone and message and help shape your identity – your true differentiation from your competition.
There are various methods of creating a brand personality: the most common is to match the personality to that of your ideal customer, or to a personality that they like. First, define your audience – who IS it that will buy you product or service? Find out what they need, want and like. Armed with this information you can build a brand personality to match that profile.
Design and your Brand So what does marketing and design have to do with branding? Design takes the brand relationship to a deeper level, and allows the product or service to tell its story in a compelling way. If advertising sells, design tells. Advertising works with one big idea, and lasts a few months. Design tends to think more long-term with a focus on developing lasting relationships with customers. Those companies that have embraced and integrated advertising and design are reaping business rewards such as higher customer loyalty and bigger ROI.
If your company’s brand is not connecting with your customers, or not truly representing your product or service, it might be time to reassess. Step back; take a good look at your brand from all angles and determine the equity that you have that is worth saving. Don’t be afraid to refresh and refine your brand – your customers will thank you for understanding their needs and continue to do business with you.