Brand your way to success

Each day the average person is bombarded with anything from 2,000 to 5,000 messages trying to tell or sell them something.

To be successful in business, your message needs to cut through this clutter.  Your ‘voice’ has to be distinct, loud and clear.

But first things first.

The cornerstone of any successful marketing and communications strategy – of being heard above the clutter – is branding. It defines your image and sets the tone of your ‘voice’.  It should be front-and-centre in every aspect of your marketing and communications.

How do you define your brand?

© Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com

Think of your product, service or company as a person. How would you define its personality? Is it the safe, reliable option (Volvo), the quirky, fun option (Virgin Mobile), or maybe even the cheap, cheerful, everyday option (K Mart)?

The brand personality you assign to your product or service has to be authentic and relevant.

To be authentic, every element of your product or service needs to gel with the image you’re planning to project. Does the packaging communicate the same thing as your newsletter copy and advertising material? Do you back that up with the training you give to your staff and salespeople? Is your pricing consistent with this positioning?

To be relevant you have to have a clear understanding of the market in which you operate and the people who buy in that market. What are the things people see as important when choosing who to buy from in your market segment?

The ongoing challenge is to ensure your branding or brand personality meets these consumer imperatives, and yet separates you from your competitors.

It’s no good being the ‘young, funky’ brand if your market is aged care. (On the other hand, it may be perfect if you’re providing travel tours for young singles.)  Equally, it’s fruitless building your brand personality around something like ‘reliability’ if all your competitors are saying the same thing.

To make sure you stand out from the crowd, do some research on your competitors’ brand personalities. How do they present themselves to the market? Do they back this up?

Once you’ve done your homework, try to find a place in the market you can legitimately occupy that provides a unique fit between what people want and what you offer.

If your competitors are all being serious, is there room for fun? If they’re all expensive, is there room for a lower priced option? If they all lack personality…. well great, you’re already in front.

Be consistent and keep it simple

Remember: everything you produce – either for internal use or to be seen and used by your customers – has to have the same look, tone and feel. Keep it consistent and keep it simple.

The success of brands like Target and Coke is built on these principles. The consistency of their approach to branding – including logo, colour and communication – means you instantly know who they are and what to expect. And each communication usually holds just one clear message.

Brands that lose their way over time typically do so in response to problems in the marketplace. Panicky brand managers will make major changes to the logo, packaging and pricing. In the process, they sacrifice their brand history and customer goodwill.

It’s a tricky business fiddling with your brand, particularly if it’s long established. There can be legitimate reasons for refreshing your brand, but you have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You shouldn’t automatically make brand personality the scapegoat for other problems in your business model.

Spend some time getting your branding right and you’ll create a strong, solid foundation on which to build a successful marketing and communications strategy.

Nerida Robinson has worked on iconic brands such as Imax, Lend Lease, Hyatt, Rexona, Nestle and Marie Claire Magazine. If you want to maximise the value of your brand contact her at nerida@goshpr.com.au

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What we’ve been up to…..

Gosh! has been working on the PR and marketing campaign for the 2013 CCAA Public Domain Awards.

The latest edition of the Public Domain Magazine, featuring case studies written by Mark Bowmer, is out now.

Road pricing is a hot topic in the media. Mark has just written the Transport Reform Network and Roads Australia submissions to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry on Road Access Pricing.

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