Why a strong brand is important. The more I work with businesses of all sizes, the more I realise the biggest issue with their marketing is not how they do it, or what they do, or how much they spend on it, but rather how they position their brand. Often there is no position, or it is poorly formulated based on watered-down statements of professionalism, affordability and quality.
Your brand is what allows your marketing to be a success. The brand position needs to be interesting, different and attractive! You can do as much marketing as you like, but without a potent brand position, you will waste money!
The challenge is that developing a brand requires a bit of patience and some money upfront. Typically a marketer would encourage you to view this as an “investment” – an investment in your brand. At this point many entrepreneurs roll their eyes – they are understandably weary of marketers trying to package expenses as investments! However, the truth is that spending money upfront on your brand is indeed an investment. The investment pays itself off through marketing that is far more effective because it is backed by a strong brand.
Developing a brand typically involves a couple of steps.
Firstly, it is often easier to use an outsider, such as an agency or consultant, to interview key people in the business, to understand the different perspectives of why the company was started, what it aims to do and then play this back to the business through a brand positioning statement. In the case of consumer brands, it is important to also involve current and potential customers in this process.
Once agreement on the brand positioning statement has been reached, the next step is to brief a graphic designer to translate it visually, into a logo, show how the logo can live across various marketing materials. Business owners often frown at the cost of using a graphic designer, however it is worth noting that the process of interpreting a written brief into a visual theme is time consuming. It is far more than just a drawing done with the help of a computer programme since it requires research, a creative process and an eye for detail. This process is a visual translation of your business, or idea, looking from the outside in. There is a difference between design, and a drawing.
Finally, once the brand has been developed visually, the final stage is to develop a marketing plan to support it. This is where the brand is communicated to the target market through a marketing message using various tools and platforms, such as the website, social media and traditional mediums such as a brochure.
The good thing is that once the initial “expensive” exercise of developing the brand has been completed, it makes the execution of the marketing activity much easier, and effective. Now all your marketing looks the same, speaks to the same message, targets the same market and has buy-in from the business and customers.
When I started as a consultant focused on entrepreneurs, I thought brand positioning can be set aside because business owners are often impatient and want quick action. They appear to not have time to engage in a thorough process of formalising the brand. However, after consulting for some years I now realise there can be no shortcuts. One has to first agree on the brand, then do the marketing. Failure to do this will result in marketing disappointment.