By: Meghan Somers, Senior Account Manager at The Agency | @TheAgencyMeghan
There is no definitive process to building a brand. What works for one company may not work for another. There are, though, some general guidelines that you can follow to help create your brand. I have outlined a few of the major ones below.
And yes before you ask, having a solid brand is just as important when running a communications or PR campaign as it is with a marketing or advertising program. A strong company brand is part of a company’s story and is what helps to resonate with a target audience.
1) Know your company inside and out
Whenever we start working with a client on their communications, PR, and branding strategy we start by asking this question: If your company was a person, how would you describe them?
This simple question prompts them to think about their company in a way they may not have before, and often times we will find out a lot more about the company than if we had said “Tell us about your brand”.
Another important part of building a strong brand is to know what your goals are. You should never launch a PR or marketing program because your competitors are, you have to have a solid objective for the initiative or the efforts will be wasted and ineffective.
When you understand your company this well, then when marketing ideas and PR stunts are proposed you will be able to quickly approve or throw them out the window. This is how REI knew that when they closed for Black Friday (a recent PR stunt), it would bolster their brand and not damage it.
2) You cannot be all things to all people
When you are trying to build a brand, do your research, find out who your core audience is, and cater to them. If you try to communicate to too many different types of audiences, especially when you do not have the budgets to do it properly, your message gets lots and your brand loses credibility. Once you have established your brand and have a solid customer base, then you can start tackling communications into alternative audiences.
3) Know your key messages
Pick three main messages about your company and your products that you can memorize and say at a moment’s notice. It may sound routine, but going in front of the media, or your customers in a live social media Q&A, can be nerve-wracking and you will have a hard time remembering these facts. By memorizing your key messages, and using them in instances where you are talking to the public, you will be able to reinforce the brand you are building.
4) Customers do more than buy your product
Customers can make or break your brand. I mean this in more than the financial context, where you need paying customers to make your business run. One of the biggest things you can do for your company is create brand advocates – people who will promote your product because they love it so much.
In the B2B world this can be as simple as requesting testimonials from past clients or current users, or chatting to your customers about the features or services they want. By listening to your customers, and giving thoughtful consideration to the suggestions they put forth, you will ensure that you are creating products/services that your customers actually want – which will ultimately help build your brand.
What tips do you have for branding that you can share? Tell us in the comments below or on twitter at @PRTheAgency.