What do you think of when you think of a brand? Do you think of your logo? How about McDonald’s golden arches or Nike’s infamous swoop? What about your website? Do you think of you website as an extension of your brand? What about your business cards, Facebook page, and customer generated reviews?￼
Throughout the next week, will be covering ways to build a practically indestructible brand that creates value for your company. This 5 part series will explore: integrated marketing communications, websites and social media, offline brand building techniques, surviving negative word of mouth, and how to increase brand awareness.
An intimate understanding of your company’s brand is mandatory. In fact, building a brand starts with your business plan as your vision and mission statements set the stage for positioning your brand by answering the questions “why” and “where”.
Creating brand value starts with the business plan. Your vision and mission statements are integral to understanding the “why” relevancy of your company as a brand. Your mission statement communicates why your company is in business to internal employees and external stakeholders. Whereas your vision statement clarifies where you see your business going.
By now you may be wondering, “what exactly is a brand?” According to brand design legend of Landor Associates —Walter Landor— “…a brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a product or service it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and quality.” And author, David Aaker, in his book, “Building Strong Brands” and the blog Aakeronbrands defines a brand as: “A set of assets (or liabilities) linked to a brand’s name and symbol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service…”. Aaker also affirms, “A brand is the most valuable real-estate in the world, a corner of the consumer’s mind.” All three statements emphasizes what a brand is: a promise, a symbol of quality, and a fixation within the customer’s mind— which is where the true value lies.
So you’re probably wondering, “How do I build a strong brand?” And, I’m glad you asked. Building a solid brand can be summed up in three words Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). So what is IMC? Integrated marketing communications, as defined by the America Association of Advertising Agencies, “recognizes the value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines— advertising, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion and combines them to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communication impact.” Or more simply stated, [Integrated marketing communications] is an approach to achieving the objectives of a marketing campaign, through a well coordinated use of different promotional methods that are intended to reinforce each other.”
The best strategy for building a strong brand is to make a plan that combines online and offline marketing efforts which is IMC in a nutshell. Essentially this is snowball marketing where everything feeds off the energy of the other advertisement strategies in a uniformed way. For example: McDonald’s executes an IMC strategy. The stores are all decorated the same, the menu has the same options almost everywhere you go, the radio commercials reflect the tagline, and the website reflects the television commercials, and the colors are red and gold across the country. McDonald’s (for better or worse) has brand positioning in the minds of almost every person on the planet.
Having a uniformed brand, and marketing strategy, conveys trust, reliability and consistency to your customer. Here are three things you can do now to start integrating your brand:
1) Promote all in-store (or offline) promotions online
2) Update all marketing materials
⁃ Has your primary number changed?
⁃ Is your address accurate?
⁃ Has your logo been revamped?
⁃ Is the information on your website outdated?
Whenever possible, it is important to be certain that your marketing materials always reflect your most current information because in the mind of a consumer you are your business card, and competition is much too competitive to assume that your product or service is so stellar that a potential customer would spend additional time searching online for the proper contact methods.
3) Reinforce your mission statement
Regardless if you are making a live presentation or are loading a power point to slideshare, it is critical to your brand that you find a way to reinforce your mission statement. This can be achieve through making a statement while presenting, creating a short animation, or designing collage for Pinterest— you should always be angling to impress your mission into the minds of consumers. After-all, Coca-Cola’s mission is to have people “open happiness” which is reflected in every commercial, jingle, print ad and billboard their advertisers create.
If you’ve found this article helpful, follow Landtroop Strategies on FB to receive all the articles in this series. In our next post: we will be discussing Value Branding: How to brand your website and social media pages.