A Stronger Brand This Year
In the early days, a brand was just a mark, burned onto livestock and stamped onto goods. The purpose was simple—to establish ownership and foil thieves.
Today, a brand encompasses so much more than a mark. It’s the collective power of a set of concrete and abstract elements that distinguishes you from your competitors, communicates your purpose, establishes credibility, promotes awareness, and fosters loyalty.
CONCRETE ELEMENTS OF BRANDING
- Company name
- Company tagline or slogan
- Color palette
- Photography style
- Patterns, textures, and iconography
- Voice and tone of your messaging
These elements are displayed publicly through the design and messaging of your:
- Social Media
- Product design
- Packaging and displays
ABSTRACT ELEMENTS OF BRANDING
- Customer experience: What a customer sees, hears, feels, and does while doing business with you. This includes customer service, atmosphere, processes, and more
- Expertise: The knowledge and experience you have in your field and about your products/services, as a whole and as individual employees
- Values: The philosophies that guide the actions of your employees and your company as a whole, both internally and externally
- Mission or purpose: The reason your company does what it does
- Company story: How you came to be, how long you’ve been around, what makes you unique
Identifying and Fixing the Weak Spots in Your Brand
A good brand strategy can turn your plans into actionable items.
Who are we?
What are our goals?
What makes us unique?
Who is our target market?
1. Review your company’s documented brand strategy.
If you don’t have a documented brand strategy, you need to develop one. This great article can walk you through each step.
If your strategy is outdated and does not reflect the company’s current goals and vision, use this article to help you modernize your strategy.
Are your brand elements still relevant? Review each one from the chart above.
2. Do a brand audit.
Using the element chart as a guide, evaluate each element of your brand (logo, colors, fonts, etc.) Do each of these items support your strategy? Or do they conflict with it? Conflicting elements not only weaken your brand, they counteract your marketing efforts and can even cost you business. Make plans to fix or revamp any items that don’t sync with your strategy.
Example: Recently, Acme Co. shifted its focus to target younger customers; however, Acme’s logo hasn’t been updated for 30 years. This could hinder the effectiveness of marketing to their new demographic.
3. Do a marketing audit.
It’s possible that your branding elements are spot-on, but the implementation has derailed. Review all marketing materials including your website, brochures, direct mail, posters, email blasts, sales scripts, and more.
Check to make sure that your logo, colors, fonts, photography, copy voice and tone, etc, adhere to brand guidelines. If not, provide staff members with a fresh copy of the guidelines and fix or phase out marketing pieces that don’t match.
For outsourced marketing or production, provide all vendors with a copy of the branding guidelines and watch all incoming work to ensure that it meets your standards.
Are your marketing pieces consistent with your brand? Review each one.
- Brand Stationary
- All Print Materials
- Social Media Campaigns
- Social Media Branded Posts
- Web Advertisements
4. Become an advocate (and a policeman) for your brand.
To provide a consistent experience for customers, all levels of your organization should be familiar with the company brand and their role in maintaining it.
As a company leader, the commitment begins with you and trickles down. It’s also essential to maintain brand standards now and in the future by correcting or eliminating initiatives that conflict with company guidelines. You may wish to assign a “brand supervisor” to handle such issues.
Example: Printing your logo in purple when your brand colors are blue and white or allowing a staff member to make and display homemade signs without marketing or leadership approval.