This is a guest blog post by Vistage member Michael Doyle
Advertising is only a small part of what it takes to bring a brand to life. Effective branding is about staking claim to a space in the market, carving out more market share and producing tangible results. Branding is vital to keeping your company alive.
More than ever, now is the time to focus on branding to stay in front of your audience and develop new business leads. Here are 10 steps to build and reinforce your brand:
1. Determine what it takes to reach your business goals: Gather your executive team and clearly determine what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you trying to drive revenue, launch a new product or service, gain market share or generate more leads? Whatever your plan to take your company to the next level, set your goals in stone and put together a plan to reach them.
2. Get to know your competition: There’s an old saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Scout the landscape and scrutinize your competition. You must fully understand who owns what space in your marketplace and truly identify where you stand. Be realistic about what your company is up against.
3. Separate yourself: After maximizing your knowledge on the external realities of your business, turn the focus inward. Figure out why you’re better than the competition and focus on your target market. Make sure you grasp the real value of what you have to offer and start to differentiate yourself. Don’t settle for saying, “We provide great service; we offer the best experience; we have the best people.” Every company in the world says these things. Understand your true differentiators, based on the space you desire to own. Determine the true value of your product/service brings and the unique reasons you really are better.
4. Forge your brand: Package your company and your product/service offerings in a way that attracts attention and generates some sex appeal for the targets you’re trying to reach. Envision your brand’s look and feel and what it should stand for. Make sure the values that really separate you are clear, concise and easy to understand. Make sure that the execution of your creative strategy stands out from the crowd and elevates your company’s brand as the true leader in your space.
5. Embrace the workload ahead: By realizing that it usually takes 7–12 “touches” for a prospect to get to know you, you can plan your marketing approach accordingly. How many leads do you need? What is the level of marketing and sales activity needed to produce these leads? Establish timelines and milestones while determining what methods of measurement you will use to track your progress.
6. Develop a holistic brand plan: Holistic branding means having one unified message and being able to effectively communicate it, market it, sell it and deliver on it based on your brand’s value proposition. The most effective companies incorporate their brands holistically not only through marketing, but through sales and operations, too.
7. Roll out the brand internally: Get your people on board so they understand the brand and the value you bring to the marketplace. Make sure they know their role in making your brand come alive and that they are brand ambassadors for your company.
8. Commit to reaching your business goals: Start by taking a hard look at how you plan to produce leads and bottom-line results. Consider developing a strong call-to-action for your customers. Look at developing a “partner program” with those in the periphery of your industry as a way to provide incentives for business referrals. Develop an online marketing strategy that maximizes your budget and produces quality leads. Consider things like search engine optimization (SEO), Google Adwords for online search engines, and even blog strategies. In preparation for launching your brand, you must coordinate the implementation, work hard to make sure you are doing everything you need to do to generate leads, gain customers and drive revenue.
9. Monitor your progress: Track your branding efforts to make sure you are reaching your goals and objectives, and measure against your sales matrix. Are the marketing efforts working to generate leads? Are you gaining customers? Are you delivering on your brand value proposition? Does everyone know what they need to do to produce results?
10. Don’t stay static. Make sure your brand is evolving the way you want it to. If it’s not evolving, then modify the plan as necessary. Don’t stay static. Your competitors won’t. Stay in front of the competition.
A strong brand positions your company as a leader in the marketplace and allows you to charge a premium price and attract and retain the best employees. Embracing these 10 steps will play a vital role in your ability to be successful during these challenging economic times.
Michael Doyle is president of Brand Iron, a Denver-based branding and marketing consulting firm. Reach him at 303-534-1901 or email@example.com. Michael can also be found on LinkedIn and on Twitter @MichaelSDoyle.