BRANDING: LEVEL SETTING EXPECTATIONS AND 4 QUESTION KICKSTARTER

Let’s start by correcting some common misconceptions about branding. Your nice logo….NOT a brand.  Your pretty website…NOT a brand.  Your poetic copy….you got it, NOT a brand.  These elements (among others) are certainly important building blocks that go into a successful brand, but as you will see a well-executed brand is more than the sum of its parts.

So what exactly is a brand?  Good question!  A brand is greater than what your product or service does.  It is more than what you communicate to your customers/community.  It represents the total perception of your organization in the marketplace, including an implied promise to your customers that your product or service will consistently meet their expectations every time they interact with you.  A successful brand evokes an emotional response.  Your brand can give a flush of pleasure, provide comfort or result in a sense of security.

Branding: Level Setting Expectations and 4 Question Kickstarter

These nuances are applicable whether you are sitting in the board room at General Motors or hunched over a laptop in your neighborhood coffee shop.   Regardless of size of your organization, the brand will differentiate you from your competitors.  If you are a for-profit organization the brand has the potential to turn prospective consumers into loyal customers.  For nonprofit organizations the brand can translate simple views into donations or other forms of advocacy.  It is for these reasons that defining your brand identity and implementing a well thought out strategy is one of the most important business objectives a company can have.

So now that you recognize the need for an effective brand strategy your immediate question should be “How exactly do I do create one?”   Similar to every other important thing in life, brand building is NOT easy.  Building a strong brand is about having a clear understanding of what your brand stands for, and then ensuring consumers in your ecosystem understands it.  It takes some serious effort.  To start with, don’t jump the gun and invest time and money initially in a website, logo or advertising campaign – these should be a later step of your brand building process.  Building (or potentially reworking) your brand should start with answering the following four cornerstone questions about your product or service:

  1. Customers: Who are they?  What customers do I want to have?  Without a concise and clear understanding of who you are speaking to your outreach efforts stand a good chance of being misaligned and not engaging to your audience.
  1. Competitors: Who are they?  What is their current brand position?  This drives to an understanding of what makes you unique.  Ideally your research here will lead you to determine core elements of your internal structure—how you support your customers, what you value, and how you run your team.
  1. What problems does my company/organization solve? Is it relevant?  The worst position you can be in is to invest your time in a solution (no matter how quality it is) which does not resonate with your target market.
  1. When people think about my company/product/service what feelings do I want them to have? Your answer to this should directly influence your logo, copy and even the location of your enterprise.  For example, if you decide that safety and security is a fundamental emotional drive it’s a good chance your logo will be conservative in nature and imply strength and stability.

The bottom line is that addressing these four questions are central to how your brand communicates, serves customers and curates product/services.  Although it may seem like a lot of work, the benefits of defining your brand identity will be more than worth it. Developing this is much more than a marketing tactic. It’s a fundamental part of good business. Done right it becomes a powerful competitive advantage that develops stronger customer relationships, creates effective marketing campaigns and a more unified organization.  And you, dear reader, now have a fighting chance to do it right.  Good luck!

IF YOU ARE SETTING UP A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION OR FURTHER ALONG IN THE PROCESS. THIS WORKBOOK WILL WALK YOU THROUGH BUILDING A COHESIVE BRAND. CAREFULLY CONSIDERING YOUR BRAND AND THEN IMPLEMENTING THE STRATEGIES OUTLINED IN THIS EXERCISE WILL BRING CLARITY AND COHESIVENESS TO YOUR ORGANIZATION AND BRAND-BUILDING EFFORTS.

Insquired is an inspirational design firm with a passion for social good. What does Insquired mean? It means a fresh, innovative look at your branding needs. We’ll give you sound marketing advice aimed at developing your brand. Insquired specializes in creating effective brands, print materials, and web experiences—all crafted to drive your message home to your audience and maximize the value of your marketing budget. Click here to see why we are a good fit.

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