I love branding. I enjoy both the science and art of bringing a company to life through its brand. There are many elements that go into a successful brand launch and they all have the same starting point no matter what type of business you operate…your customer.
Understanding your customer, their needs, the market, their relationship (interaction) with your product, and trends are critical to developing a strong brand. Your brand is your promise. It’s what you commit to deliver to your customer. Your brand is not merely words, nor a visual image (logo) of your company. If your brand does not deliver the experience promised you’ve lost. Depending on how far the gap is between what was promised and what was delivered the cost of the misalignment can be catastrophic. Think of all the brands that have either disappeared of lost value. Circuit City, Kodak, RCA, E.F. Hutton, Chess King, and Zenith are all examples of companies that lost their way…lost their relevance to their customer base…failed to deliver on their promise.
In many cases the failure of these companies began in their failure to listen to their customers. Some call it hubris, others ignorance, still others arrogance. General Motors, once the king of the automotive industry lost its way when it failed to ignore the shift to more economical, better built vehicles. After nearly 20-plus years of declining market share they are slowly beginning to reestablish their credibility and position as an innovator of quality built vehicles.
If you’re about to begin a branding journey remember 2 things:
- Always start with your customer. Talk with them yourself. You may choose to use a partner, or agency, to assist in this process but hearing directly from your customers what they want, and what they find most important and valuable, is critical for your success.
- Involve key internal stakeholders from the beginning. People need to be bought into building what the customer asks for. If there is a disconnect between what the customer wants, what your brand represents or promises, and what you actually deliver, failure won’t be too far behind.
My final point is that your brand is a living, breathing thing. It develops, evolves, and morphs along the way providing you are paying attention to it. Your customers are changing far too quickly to think you can check a box and move on from a new logo, new website, or new marketing materials. Remember…listen. Take note. Engage your stakeholders. And act accordingly.
That’s me above announcing our new brand at an all-company Town Hall in September. So exciting. Check out http://www.distinguished.com