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25 November 2010

Marketing

The Seven Key Considerations of Branding

Now let's get just one thing straight before we go any further. Neither you or I decide your brand.

This crucial element of your company's character lies in the hands of your customer base. Or, to be more accurate, people who may or MAY NOT buy your product or use your services.

And let's get another thing out in the open while we're at it: branding is not just about advertising. It's the mere tip of the iceberg.

In order to truly understand the concept of branding, you need to stop thinking of your brand as being the logo. It's more than this. It's the way your staff answer the phone, the colour and cut of their uniform (if they wear one), the way you keep in touch with your customers, and the words you choose when communicating with them. All these things together - and tons more - result in the essence of your brand.

So, how do you start the process of creating a brand? What should you ask yourself? Unfortunately, there's not a clear "branding by numbers" answer to this one. Every company is different. But here are a few starters for ten.

  1. Who are you and what do you do?

    This is where you need to start thinking laterally. For example, if you made Harley Davidsons, your answer to this wouldn't be: We're a manufacturer that specialises in motorbikes. It should be: We hold the solution to eternal youth, escapism and freedom for (mostly) middle-aged males. See the difference?

  2. Start as you mean to go on.

    By this, I mean consistency all the way. And like I said, it's as much about the people in the company and how they behave, as the products and services you offer. Take a look at your company policy. Does it encourage staff to make customers feel a certain way? Do you have anything in writing about what your customers' experience of your company should be? If not, you need to, long before I sit down at the drawing board.

  3. Create a tagline, or a trueline

    Of course, we can do this for you - it's one of the things our writers pride themselves in. "Every Little Helps" may not at first appear much of a tagline, but I don't even have to tell you which company it belongs to, do I? It uses seemingly mundane, everyday language, but that's the beauty of it - it's something that people can and do incorporate into everyday language. How's that for effortless, free advertising?

  4. Who are your customers?

    One of the most vital, all-encompassing questions of the lot. And one which you will see batted about this site by numerous members of the team - and without apology. Unlock the answer to this question and you'll know why someone wants to buy a certain brand, what it means to them and why they think that you can solve their problems.

  5. Ensure your product isn't a replacement for your brand.

    Let me explain. Mars sells untold different numbers of chocolate bars, but they are all very different in terms of who they appeal to and what purpose they serve (apart from plain indulgence, pure and simple). What holds them all together? The brand, of course.

  6. Don't copy your competitors, whatever you do.

    It's generally agreed in design circles that if you mimic a market leader's branding in some way, all you'll do is send the footfall in their direction. Don't try to be better, try to be different. Consider things such as the potential gaps left by your competitors. For example, if they don't appeal to younger people and you feel it's a gap in the market worth exploring, reflect this in your brand, such as through the use of certain colours.

  7. Don't sacrifice brand value in favour of brand recognition.

    Sure, your primary goal is perhaps to get people instantly noticing your company's presence through key colours, phrases and the like, but the long-lasting power of brand value should not be underestimated. It has to be earned and worked out. Think anything before 3 and 5 years for this one.

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