Cheat Sheet

Branding For Dummies

From Branding For Dummies by Bill Chiaravalle, Barbara Findlay Schenck

If you have a concept, product, or organization you want to put and keep in the public eye, you need to brand it. Branding means coming up with a name, conveying an image, and keeping the brand up-to-date. A strong brand reaps economic benefits in the marketplace and in the workplace, so it pays to become familiar with the process and rules for creating and maintaining a strong brand.

The Branding Process

As you think about branding, keep the process in mind. Thinking through the issues in the following list can help you position your brand and your organization for the long term and prevent a host of short-term problems.

  1. Determine what you’re branding.

    Decide whether your brand will be your one-and-only or one of several brands in your organization.

  2. Research.

    Investigate everything there is to know about your product and the market in which it will compete.

  3. Position your brand.

    Define what makes your brand unique and how it will slot into an available space in the market and in your customers’ minds.

  4. Define your brand.

    State what your brand stands for, what unique benefit it provides, what it promises to consumers and associates, and the image that will permeate everything from your marketing communications to your product design, business character, and consumer experience.

  5. Develop your brand identity.

    Include all possible elements in your brand — brand name, logo, tagline, and other brand signature elements.

  6. Launch your brand internally first.

    Introduce your brand in-house before announcing it via publicity, advertising, promotions, and presentations.

  7. Manage your brand.

    Develop brand champions, deliver a consistent brand experience, understand your brand’s value, leverage your brand’s reputation — with caution, and protect your brand through usage rules and legal rights.

  8. Monitor, evaluate, and update your brand.

    Keep your brand relevant and credible in light of changes to your business.

The Rules of Branding

As you go about the process of creating brands for your organization, you need to keep some branding principles in mind. The following three rules are the key concepts to keep in mind as you develop your brand:

  • Your brand is a promise that must be reinforced every time people come in contact with any facet of your organization.

  • Your brand must accurately reflect the core beliefs of your organization, your leadership, and all who deliver your brand experience to consumers.

  • Consistency builds brands, so every encounter with your brand — whether with your staff, product, Web site, marketing communications, news coverage, or any other form of brand experience — must consistently contribute to your desired brand identity.

Attributes of a Good Brand Name

Branding is about name recognition, so despite Shakespeare’s contention that a rose could be called mud without harming its smell, your brand name should be an integral and positive part of your brand. Your brand name should do all of the following:

  • Reflect the character of the brand

  • Describe the brand’s offering

  • Create an association with the brand’s promise

  • Be easy and pleasant to say

  • Be unique and memorable

Economic Benefits of a Strong Brand

A good brand not only helps people identify your organization, it increases its value. When your brand is a strong presence in the marketplace, you reap a range of economic benefits, including the following:

  • Premium pricing: Consumers pay more for branded items that they believe have higher value and lower risk than lesser-known alternatives.

  • Lower cost of sales: Consumers of valued brands make repeat and frequent purchases. As a result, customer-acquisition costs are amortized over a long-term client relationship.

  • Lower cost of promotion: Consumers of valued brands become ambassadors who spread positive word-of-mouth at no cost to the brand.

  • Higher market share: Valued brands acquire loyal customers who recruit more customers to the brand, increasing the brand’s share of market while reducing customer-development costs and building immunity to competitive attacks.

  • Lower employee turnover: Great brands attract passionate employees, who pass their enthusiasm to satisfied consumers, who in turn make employees’ jobs more enjoyable, reducing employee turnover as a result.

  • Higher stature: Valued brands enjoy a high level of awareness and esteem in the minds of consumers, industry leaders, community leaders, news editors, and financial analysts and investors, which leads to yet higher brand preference and marketplace prominence.

When to Update Your Brand

You don’t want to fix your brand if it’s not broke — one of the key elements of a strong brand is consistency, after all. However, you need to make sure that your brand still conveys what you want it to. A brand identity that’s out of step with current market and cultural tastes and trends isn’t doing you any good.

Review your brand periodically, and use the events in the following list as an opportunity to make sure that your brand is still relevant to your organization:

Major business changes Rapid market or product line expansion
Major market changes Major product, channel, or strategic diversification
Change of ownership or leadership A merger or acquisition
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