Successful branding begins with a well-defined brand that is RELEVANT to your market. You might think that since you have a logo, tagline, and business card, you've completed your branding. But, unless you've carefully considered and defined ALL five of the key brand elements—position, promise, personality traits, story, and associations—you still have work to do.
And, until you've infiltrated your brand into every level of your organization and built the discipline of CONSISTENCY into every behavior, action, or communication—both internally and externally—you are not yet on the path to a successful brand strategy.
Five Key Brand Elements:
- Brand Position
The Brand Position is the part of the brand that describes what your organization does and for whom, what your unique value is and how a customer benefits from working with you or your product/service, and what key differentiation you have from your competition. Once you've defined your brand position, make it available in 25, 50, and 100 word versions.
- Brand Promise
The Brand Promise is the single most important thing that the organization promises to deliver to its customers—EVERY time. To come up with your brand promise, consider what customers, employees, and partners should expect from every interaction with you. Every business decision should be weighed against this promise to be sure that a) it fully reflects the promise, or b) at the very least it does not contradict the promise.
- Brand Personality
Brand Traits illustrate what the organization wants its brand to be known for. Think about specific personality traits you want prospects, clients, employees, and partners to use to describe your organization. You should have 4-6 traits (5 is ideal), each being a single term (usually an adjective).
- Brand Story
The Brand Story illustrates the organization's history, along with how the history adds value and credibility to the brand. It also usually includes a summary of your products or services.
- Brand Associations
Brand Associations are the specific physical artifacts that make up the brand. This is your name, logo, colors, taglines, fonts, imagery, etc. Your brand associations must reflect your brand promise, ALL of your brand traits, and support your brand positioning statement.
Once you've developed and defined a relevant brand, you must begin building the brand with employees, customers, prospects, partners, etc. through CONSISTENT execution. Repetition is key to the success of the branding process.
It's easy to falter "just this one time," because you're busy, or because you think your effort will only be used or viewed internally. Faltering, however, will make the fact that you have a good brand completely irrelevant. No one, including your employees, will ever really know or remember what your brand is, unless it is the same every time they are exposed to it. Without consistency, brand awareness becomes impossible to achieve, no matter how much money you spend on marketing. And your good brand identity—that you spent so much time defining—begins to look more schizophrenic with every falter.
To help ensure you build the habit of consistent brand execution company-wide, we recommend you document your Brand Elements in a Brand Book and provide this guideline to every employee for their own use in their daily activity. Then become your company's brand ambassador and begin the diplomatic process of self-enforcing its use!
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