Brand Building Energizes
Organizations embark on brand building initiatives for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is an established company that needs a brand refresh as part of the business normal evolution (like Apple for those that remember). Sometimes it is a start-up that is ready to take their image the next level (like many of today’s young tech companies). Sometimes a reputation management circumstance creates the need to make changes and rebrand (like AirTran–formerly called ValuJet—responsible for the 1996 deadly crash into the Florida Everglades).
Regardless of the reason, as an Atlanta firm that conducts brand building initiatives all over the world, we know it can be difficult for executives to embark on a marketing initiative like branding without questioning if it will work, and when they will begin seeing their return on investment.
The challenge is successful brand-building initiatives are not defined ONLY by increases in sales. Rather, success is defined by improvements across your entire organization. In fact, if you let go of measuring success by immediate sales, you’ll see that effective branding immediately improves a variety of areas within your company (which may increase your sales in the short term in ways you did not calculate).
What exactly is branding?
There is a lot of confusion around branding, and multiple definitions—so what exactly is branding? Decades ago branding was defined as a name, slogan, logo or design, or a combination of these elements, that identify a company’s products or services. Today brand is a bit more complex, but even more vital, in today’s world of marketing.
Branding involves every aspect of your customers’ experience along the customer journey—from your logo to your website, your social media posts, and advertising; it encompasses how you answer the phone to how you interact with customers. In a nutshell, a brand is how your customer perceives you. This includes everything they think they know about your brand—both factual (e.g. bright blue packaging) and emotional (e.g. experienced and knowledgeable).
A strong brand does not manifest overnight; it’s a result of a meticulous planning and development, which is why many start-ups and small businesses neglect it without realizing its impact.
Why is branding so important?
Your brand is your promise to your consumers; as the battle for customers intensifies daily, a strong brand is an invaluable asset. It’s important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. Branding creates immediate results—following are five hidden, and immediate, benefits of a successful brand building initiative.
#1 Branding Result: Team Building
Branding not only creates loyal customers, but it creates brand ambassadors—loyal employees who are thoroughly engaged, connected and committed. Many companies that are in need of a face lift are having issues with corporate morale. Brand gives them something to believe in, something to stand behind. It serves as a guide to understanding the purpose of the organization and the business objectives. The strongest leaders realize that strong brands aren’t built by the marketing department alone; every employee in every department has a role to play.
#2 Branding Result: Customer Engagement
The customer experience builds loyalty and drives sales, and the best customer experiences originate inside the company, its brand, and core values. Often, as part of branding programs, organizations survey their customers in order to understand what current perceptions are; this effort actually engages the customer. Not only are you in touch with them and showing that you value their opinion, you are making them part of your success. This helps build loyalty and can be a powerful source of immediate referrals once you begin a branding program.
#3 Branding Result: Message Testing
Developing messaging and positioning is part of any brand building initiative. One distinct advantage of embarking on a branding effort is your ability to test a variety of messages on your target audience to discover what resonates. For example, one of our lost a multimillion dollar client and, in an attempt to reclaim them, tested messaging that resulted from a brainstorming session. It resonated so powerfully with the decision maker that he immediately reinstated our client, and well before we completed our branding initiative, the program had produced significant ROI.
#4 Branding Result: Research-based Content Development & Adjustments
Branding requires a great deal of research, which often includes understanding your buyer, their keyword usage, and their path to purchase. While you are creating a brand that aligns to these findings, you can actually use your data to adjust your existing sales and marketing efforts. For example, SEO on your website can be tightened with every keyword analysis conducted. You can adjust your website copy and sales “script” to align to the newly discovered purchase path of your buyer, and plan your editorial calendar based on the content your audience is engaging with.
#5 Branding Result: Increased Visibility = Increased Brand Awareness & Reduced Marketing Costs
The cost of acquiring new customers is a major cost center for most businesses. Increased brand awareness lowers your acquisition costs, helping attract customers via low or no cost methods. Understanding your current customer acquisition costs, and quantifying the benefits of lowering them through raised brand awareness, is a compelling financial argument. As your brand and positioning become better understood recognition/awareness will increase and soon your need to market yourself will decrease – this will be a direct revenue saving.
In today’s hyper-competitive business world, having a strong brand can mean the difference between being a multibillion-dollar enterprise whose logo is recognized around the world or following the fate of the cassette recorder. The effectiveness of branding is about the experience it gives a consumer. Did your product or service perform as expected? Did it exceed expectations? How was the service experience? If you can get positive answers to these questions, you’ve created a loyal customer.