How To Create A Branding Strategy
Branding the single most important objective of marketing. The American Marketing Association describes a brand as the symbol, design, name, or combination that identifies a product, service or identity. If you think about your favorite drink, you probably instantly recall a specific brand name or image. The name or symbol you recall is the brand for that item. Branding requires a strategy to achieve. A good brand inspires confidence in the product, is easy to identify and understand, creates an emotional connection with your target audience, inspires loyalty and motivates your target audience to action, such as buying.
Identify your audience or target market. Use an online survey tool to ask basic questions about your product, idea or service in order to identify who is the audience most likely to respond well to what you are offering. Typically you will want to establish a product website, Facebook page or blog that will allow you to offer the survey to your fans. People are often reluctant to take surveys, so keep your survey brief, direct and interesting.
Study the most successful brands on the market. It is always a good idea to look at what is successful and to learn from successful models. Divide the brand into pieces. Look at logos or symbols as one piece, name as a second piece and catch phrase as a third piece. Pay attention to the typefaces used by major brands, the style of the logo design and the message the brand is conveying with the complete package. Usually you will find that all of the elements are carefully crafted to deliver the same message, each in a slightly different way.
Compare your early brand ideas with your competition. Locate the top 10 brands in your specific area of interest. Position the brands side-by-side in scale on a paper with your brand. Each industry has a set of characteristics that they follow to target their specific audience. If your logo, name and catch phrase are strongly different in size, shape, color and message then you are likely to have a problem. Typically each of your competitors has done similar branding research to develop their successful brand. If their research has produced a different result than your research, try to understand where those differences are coming from.
Refine your brand message. What is the single most important thing you want your target audience to think or feel when they see your brand? Your message should be a slug-line of less than six words. Ask yourself if your logo is crisp, easy to identify and symbolic of your message. Shrink down and enlarge your name in the font you have chosen. Often a logo that looks good at one size will be illegible or unattractive at a different size.
Select your brand colors carefully. Bright, neon colors surrounded by a black background make a bold statement that is interesting and easier to read for a younger audience. Classical colors such as burgundy, forest green, navy and medium brown when used with more refined logos are attractive and comfortable for an older audience. Primary colors like red, blue and yellow are focused at small children and sports audiences. Natural colors such as greens, tans, browns, soft yellows and clay colors are appealing to people who are sensitive to environmental causes or natural living styles.
Combine these tips to develop at least three distinct sets of brands. Take your brands to the public to see which sets are people’s favorites. Offer a free coupon or discount for people who vote for one of the three. This is valuable research in isolating the best brand for your product, idea or identity. Market your brand by placing your brand on every type of sales material you can. Join charity events that allow your brand to be photographed on step-and-repeat signage behind celebrities. Place your brand on sponsorship items and in all types of advertising.
When your product sales grow sufficiently to allow you to advertise on radio and television, hire a professional jingle company to create music that follows the same branding theme strategies you used in developing the visual marketing materials. Once your brand is launched, it becomes important to vigilantly manage, expand and defend your brand. You want to inspire the continued trust and confidence of your audience. In some industries this requires creating a person who is identified with the brand, a spokesperson to aid in selling your message. Careful selection of a spokesperson is critical to maintaining your market share. Once a year, review your brand to see if it is becoming dated. Continue to pay attention to your competition’s efforts and any changes to your audience that may require modifications to your brand.