It takes a lot of time and effort to create, implement and manage a powerful brand, but the payoffs are significant.
“A well crafted and well managed brand helps you distinguish yourself among the competition,” says Rochelle Reiter, agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising. “It motivates customers and prospects to do business with you.”
The end result? Higher gross profit margins, more net profit, and a much stronger, competitive company that creates a high return on investment for the owner(s).
“Many companies struggle with coming to grips with their own individual brand. But it doesn’t have to be painful,” adds Wes Phillips, also an agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising.
Orange Label itself underwent a rebranding process five years ago. “After more than three decades of success, we rebranded so we would be viewed as a valuable and relevant marketing resource versus just another advertising agency. That informed how we changed our name, logo and positioning to clearly identify what sets us apart: our integrated focus,” Phillips says.
“After five years, not only is our name and identity different, the makeup of our staff is different, our services are different, and how we deliver those services is different,” Phillips notes. “The net effect is that we have expanded to a more diverse client base. The changes have improved profits, but, most importantly, our clients are more successful.”
Smart Business asked Reiter and Phillips about how companies can go about creating powerful brands.
What are the components that comprise a brand?
There is no black-and-white definition of a ‘brand.’ A brand encompasses all the thoughts and feelings that prospects and customers have about an entity. A person can be a brand. For example, a celebrity has his or her own brand, personality and value — good, bad or indifferent. A brand is not just a logo, but can involve all the senses as well. Someone might hear a jingle or see a symbol such as the Nike swoosh and relate it to the brand. The key is to recognize that brands are driven by emotions — people have emotional relationships to brands. They buy things that make them feel something positive, so the purchase is emotionally gratifying.
What does a brand mean internally?
The brand informs a company or organization’s overall strategy. A brand serves as an internal compass, guiding the strategic direction of the company and culture. All employees should be trained on the brand, embrace the brand and behave in ways that reinforce the brand.
Why is a powerful brand so important?
A powerful brand distinguishes the product, service or company from the competition; creates additional perceived value; emotionally motivates people to buy; and translates into more market share and better profit margins. At the end of the day, it will dictate what someone is willing to pay for the product or service.
If the brand is not seen as powerful, it can be viewed as a commodity. When a company is viewed as a commodity, rather than a distinctive product or service, the consumer has no compelling reason to buy, other than price.
What should be taken into consideration when developing a brand?
Take the time to ensure team alignment on: who you are, where you are going and why customers and prospects should do business with you. There is also value in engaging with your external audiences to capture their authentic perceptions of your products or services.
Be sure to identify your company or organization’s niche; being all things to all people does not produce the best result. Be aware of strengths and weaknesses and really home in on what the company or organization does well — what people can get and experience from you that they can’t elsewhere. Have the brand permeate every part of your business. Let it guide your goals, objectives and strategic plan. Be sure to link the brand to the emotional benefits.
You’ll also want to develop your identity visually to bring the brand to life, but underneath it all is the core brand message. All of the tangible things — your logo, promotional and marketing materials, advertising — need to always be consistent with that message.
When is the right time to refresh a brand or rebrand completely?
The answer to when to rebrand is not clear cut. If a brand is proactively managed, it should naturally evolve so that as changes occur with your company, customers or marketplace, your brand will evolve as well. However, it may be time to rebrand if faced with one of the following circumstances: 1) you’re facing competitive pressures from someone who is gaining more market share; 2) your target demographics think or feel differently about your brand than they used to; 3) you’ve made significant changes internally such as a name change, ownership change or acquisition. A thriving brand leader will proactively manage the brand as an ongoing activity and consider it as an integral part of the business strategy.