Brand building basics: Part 2

In my previous post on brand building basics, I covered some key brand building preliminaries. Once your organization has those underway, it’s time to turn your attention to implementation. While this seems straightforward, it rarely is. It can run into considerable effort and expense as well, so it is best to augment job descriptions and put a budget in place separate from whatever you may have allocated for logo and other tools described in Part 1. Regardless of the budget, implementation encompasses three broad activities:

• Build your promise and the branding tools into your marketing and communications efforts to consistently apply the brand via Web sites, social media, brochures, advertisements, packaging, letterhead, business cards, folders, posters, and trade show displays. This can be difficult unless you put a system in place such as plans, guidelines, and templates that help everyone involved to do so efficiently and effectively; this will ensure consistency of look, feel and tone of all materials as they are developed over time.

Craft marketing plans and programs with the brand promise in mind. If you are making an offer that varies from the brand promise, don’t use the brand. Put a review process in place to assure consistency and the quality you need; this is especially important early on when standards and routines are not yet established.

• Commit to keeping your promise, even when it’s difficult. Make it part of your company culture to create a solid foundation for delivering on it. Your employees are the ones you will depend on to follow through on this so make certain to communicate it to everyone in the company repeatedly.

Actions speak louder than words so express the promise every day through words and deeds. Embed the messages in materials about your mission and values as well as in other routine and special communications. If you are creating a new logo, use its unveiling to emphasize the elements of the promise it is to convey. When appropriate highlight and honor examples of employees who go the extra mile to deliver on the brand promise. When faced with a difficult customer situation, be sure problem resolution is guided by and exemplifies your commitment to the brand promise.

Keeping your promise is the most difficult and important of all branding activities. Success requires sustained focus and alignment of mission, values, goals, objectives, and operations across all departments. Implement the budget, policies, processes, resources and capabilities your company will need to keep its promises. Always consider the impact on your ability to keep your brand promise when setting company priorities and making key business decisions. Even a few disappointed customers, product failures, or bad reviews can undermine your efforts and damage the brand in which you have invested.

Measure progress and value. Set goals and define related measurements to systematically track your brand building progress.

When brand building is successful it adds value by positively differentiating an organization from its competitors and creating an advantageous position. But be aware that long-term company-wide commitment, focus, consistency, diligent execution and a lot of hard work will be needed. What brand building challenges have you overcome? Share your tips and solutions so we can all learn or post a hypothetical problem to see what solutions others may suggest.

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As Principal of Karen Lauter Utgoff Consulting, which she founded in 1991, Karen works with a variety organizations on issues concerning entrepreneurial/start-up marketing and sales; strategic marketing; market-oriented business strategy; and business planning.

© Copyright 2011 Karen Lauter Utgoff Consulting. All rights reserved.

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