BY ANDI GRAY & ROBYN GOLDENBERG-COHEN
Well-executed marketing and branding work together to drive sales—and ultimately profit. But while they do work together, they also serve different purposes: Branding is the identity of the company, and is strategic, but marketing is mostly tactical. Skillfully targeted marketing will contribute to a company’s brand, but the brand of a company is bigger than any singular marketing effort. Branding is what sticks with the customer regardless of buying behavior. Branding is important because it ultimately determines if the client will become either a loyal, repeat customer or a one-time user. Marketing cultivates attention and activates people to become buyers; branding cultivates company advocates within the customer base.
Bring consistency to what your business stands for by developing your company’s identity. Think about how some pictures help you get in touch with the personalities of the people in the photo. Make your company image represent the unique personality of your company.
Customers want to know what your business is about. Use color, image, and messaging to give customers a snapshot. Unify. Inform. Identify. Engage. Electrify. Represent. Visualize. Consider how you can achieve all of these when working on your company’s identity.
Define the market sectors your company operates within—professional services, retail, and government transportation. Look at other companies in the same sector to gather ideas.
Use branding to create a concise identity that speaks to all the market sectors your company operates in. Employ marketing to take action steps within each sector. This is where you’ll be able to craft messaging specific to the target audience. Your brand is about showing prospective customers, employees, and vendors who you are and what your company stands for.
Start to develop your own messaging by putting into words what your company is all about. Develop a mission statement that explains the purpose of the business by asking:
• Customers to supply quotes that explain the value they receive from your company
• Employees to contribute statements about what they believe the company stands for
• The founders why they got into the business in the first place
• Everyone to brainstorm what the company’s future is all about
Put all of that information into the hat, and begin to pull out words and phrases that can be used to create a one-paragraph representation of the business. Make sure the description ties together where the company has come from and where it is going next, as well as who it serves and why. Keep in mind that while you set the tone for branding, it is ultimately your customers who will define the company brand and voice.
Once you have a clear written understanding of the company’s purpose in the form of a mission and vision statement, it’s time to turn that into a picture that says it all. Look for a core symbol that fits the written description you’ve created. Decide if that symbol should be contemporary, formal, humorous, ancient, off-beat, classic, etc., depending upon the tone you want to convey. Pick colors that support your message.
Consider hiring people to help you design a logo, layout of letterhead, and digital imaging. One of the big mistakes many business owners make is trying to do it themselves even though they have had no formal education on effective use of color, layout, and artistic design. The last thing you want is to put out a bad design that backfires in terms of what you are trying to convey.
Marketing cultivates attention and activates people to become buyers branding cultivates company advocates within the customer base.”
Develop multiple concepts. Show customers and employees various designs and ask them what they see. Don’t go with what you like; go with what your customers and employees identify with. Take enough time and expend the effort necessary to build an icon that will last for many years. Once you’ve decided on the mission, the logo, and layout, be consistent in their use. Customers want reassurance that your company is well organized. Build customer and employee confidence by demonstrating that you understand how important it is to properly represent your company.
One final note: It’s important to remember that branding is not a one-time thing, it is an ongoing effort that evolves with your culture, processes, and the development of your business. The true measure of successful branding is that your customers offer you their loyalty and become brand ambassadors for your company. [CD0316]