Branding: Who’s Controlling Your Brand?

“A business that puts the goals of the corporation before the needs of its customers relinquishes control of its brand and leaves it open to random interpretation.” Ian Macaulay, Senior Partner, Macaulay Communications Group

(PRWEB) August 10, 2004 -- Branding is a complex process. The purpose of this article is to define exactly what branding is and to outline some of the elements that are essential in the building of a great brand.    

It’s not without purpose that I’ll be placing a great deal of emphasis on customer needs. It’s too easy to say “well that’s obvious”. It’s quite another thing to make customer needs the foundation of your brand and to practice it in all your affairs.

Big multinational or small home business the fundamentals of branding apply to all.

One of the most successful brands I’ve encountered was owned by the “newsy” who operated his business in the shadow of Toronto’s bank towers. Always gracious, he knew his hundreds of loyal clients by name, a little about their jobs and their families, knew what they read, handed it to them as they quickly walked past on their way to work and trusted them to pay him without taking the time to count the money. 30° below in a blizzard or 100° above in the steaming heat he could always be counted on to be there with a cheerful and personal greeting.

In short, he had built a great brand based on a genuine interest in his customers and their needs. I’m told he retired in considerable comfort a happy man.    

Since there is some confusion as to what branding actually is, let’s define what I mean by branding.

What is branding?

Branding is often confused with "corporate identity" or "corporate image."

Corporate identity refers to a company's name, logo, tagline or slogan - its visual expression or its "look.”

Image is the public's perception of a company, whether that perception is intended or not!

A brand is the sum total of all the impressions people can experience about a company or products.

A strategic process:

Branding is a business process that is planned, strategically-focused on the needs of your customers and integrated throughout an organization.

Branding establishes the direction, leadership, clarity of purpose, inspiration and energy for a company's most important asset, its corporate brand.

What is communication as it applies to branding?

Communication is anything that imparts a message of any kind in any way.

In terms of branding, everything you are and do as a business, in your community and as individuals are media communicating your brand to others.

Emotional triggers:

People recall those messages that impact on them emotionally. I call them emotional triggers.

Emotional triggers cause a feeling of “good” or “need” in a targeted public.

In communicating, the objective is to have people “feel” something good rather than think something good.

Consistency & Continuity:

Consistency and continuity are essential to establishing brand recognition. This applies to all communication in all media.

A major reason for brand failure is: A business either doesn’t have an integrated strategic branding and communications plan, or if they do, they don’t stick-to-it.

While a strategic plan must make allowance for flexibility, experimentation is not an option.

Precise targeting: (Building your brand community)

Precise targeting delivers your brand to customers, media and markets that will have an interest in your company and its products. This is your brand community and your most important asset.

Precise targeting will take your brand to where it will do you the most good at the least cost.

Other publics are for the most part irrelevant.

Creating a great brand - Customers first:

As I pointed out earlier, corporate branding is a business process that is planned, strategically-focused on customer needs and integrated throughout an organization.

Involvement of your management team and at times your entire staff is imperative to achieving a successful outcome. In essence companies are the people who work for them. Employee participation in the branding process results in staff emotional buy-in to both the branding procedure and to your corporate goals.

The brander’s overall function is to act as a simplifier. Focusing on the needs of its customers; the internal organization and culture of a business, the brander refines what he finds into simple understandable feelings, thoughts and images over which the client can maintain control.

Objectivity is an indispensable ingredient. You’ll need to be realistic about every aspect of your business. The brander’s task is to help you to be impartial.

Choosing a brander:

Not to be confused with brand management, “managing" the creation of a brand is very much like directing a film. Scenes are shot out of sequence. Bits and pieces are worked on by a number of people in different places at different times. Periodic team meetings pull the work together ensuring consistency and continuity.

What should you be looking for when selecting a brander? Because the brander will need to know everything there is to know about your business you’ll want to select someone you can trust.

Experiences in branding with a strong background in all aspects of communications are primary prerequisites. Your brander will work with a team of professionals, each one the master of a business or communication discipline. These can include corporate governance and internal communications experts, public relations specialists, copy writers, graphic designers, and media planners.

In summing up, remember, your image is the public's perception of your company, whether that perception intended or not.

Respect your customers – control your brand.

Members of the Macaulay Group are recognized as experts in branding, public relations, communications, corporate governance and internal communications. Together they possess a wealth of experience.

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