You’ve done your homework and designed a brand program to increase the image and impact of your company in its markets. The problem is you have figured out that if you stop pushing the brand into various media channels all of your marketing responses come to a screeching halt. You’ve found this out the hard way by pulling out of specific marketing and media venues such as adwords, print ads, eMailings, etc. but you haven’t figured out what’s your next best step!
This situation can be very frustrating for any marketing director who is in charge of developing, managing and delivering qualified results. Let’s be honest, this situation occurs every single day in the business-to-business marketplace. The illustration above presents the three levels of brand development that starts with value building and ends with specific tactics. The basis of creating a brand strategy begins with the four qualifying questions below. If you can answer yes to them you are on your way to building a sustainable and healthy brand. If some of your answers are no then more brand building is required:
- Have you fully researched both your prospective and current customers? This means you are able to answer the following questions: What type of topics are of greatest interest to your key customers? What do they typically purchase from you and other companies in your marketplace? What dollar volume of purchases from your company do they represent per year and how many years do you project that you will keep them as a customer? What kinds of media do they prefer to receive information — email, social media, telephone, direct presentation, etc.? Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to provide them with the qualified answers in the formats they prefer. In short, you know what makes your customers tick and you know how to talk in their comfort zone and language.
- Is your brand well known throughout your industry? If it is well known, hopefully it has a positive brand image. This means you have spent time presenting the positive attributes and benefits of your brand and have created a positive dialog among industry leaders, vendors, customers and related constituents. On the other hand, if your company is relatively unknown then you need to create a strategic plan to raise the level of awareness and impact in your key markets. The worst situation is when a company is well known but in a negative light. Generally speaking, it takes three times as long to rebuild a negative image than to create a positive one.
- Does your brand campaign have a developed framework of generating and responding to messages? This is a newer piece of the marketing mix and many business to business marketers have not figured out what the correct selection and process of brand messaging is for their specific organizations. Unfortunately, many choose the type of communications they will engage in based upon their preferences! This is an enormous mistake. The best way to make these choices are to apply the results of questions number one and two above and determine what types of media channels your customers and prospective customers are currently using. Here’s a hint: Simply having a Facebook page does not mean you have an effective social media program!
- Has your brand evolved into a system of visual identity and expression? You can determine the answer to this question by simply determining if all the major types of situations your brand is presented in has clarity, a striking resemblance, a consistent theme, and harmonized graphics? Or does each of your communications such as email, website, direct mailings, calendars, etc. all have a different look with the logo bearing the only resemblance throughout the various communications? Simply, do you have a brand campaign or a series of one-off designs that really don’t create an integrated marketing communication? This seems so simple and yet the majority of business to business marketers do not pass this simple communications test.
- Have you researched your customers and prospective customers?
- Have you determined how well known your brand is?
- Have you developed a brand messaging framework?
- Have you created a brand identity system?