The traditional branding process which involved deciding the logo and the correct Pantone colour allocation is dead.
Contemporary approaches mean that everything your organisation does in the market and the marketing space contributes to the idea of a company brand. Your marketing efforts involve a range of activities including digital initiatives, product marketing, PR and Communications. All are defining the brand and aimed at strengthening your market position, increasing sales, and, ultimately, aiming to make your offering unique.
The cacophony in the contemporary market place can be overwhelming to small business owners. A myriad of external service providers clambering for your attention and promising stronger business results and market presence. As things change rapidly, they also stay the same.
The Chinese have been printing for art and enhanced communication since the 8th century. This was mainly using woodblock. However, a real turning point in mass printing came when Johannes Gutenberg developed the printing press in around 1439. From this point, companies have been able to promote their events, organisation and market position widely.
For some marketing exercises, I have been involved; the company brand was firmly promoted through a strong above the line strategy. Even now some billboards are so well positioned and incredibly huge, you must read them; from the car, while walking and occasionally while landing from the air. You cannot avoid them.
Even with the rapid rise of digital, the demand for billboard and hardcopy communication services does not seem to have subsided. Of course, many billboards are now digital and dynamic, but companies are still demanding their services to assist their market positioning.
This approach has been popular, but I have always found it difficult to measure the result of the impact in a tangible way. Digital marketing through web sites and social media have allowed an almost limitless vehicle which allows tracking and measurement of impact and engagement.
In “High Growth Handbook” Elad Gil defines the branding of an organisation as something much more than a logo. In short, all marketing activities contribute to the brand. How your organisation is perceived, what problems you are the best at solving (for clients), how will you allay their concerns and spark the positive emotional triggers?
So how do you set about shaping the brand for your organisation? The starting point must be your business strategy. If you have a well-crafted business strategy and some clear strategic objectives, this will be a great start.
Using the strategic objectives and the overarching strategic direction a marketing plan can be drafted, which complements both this strategy and the allocated budget. Components of the marketing plan should include:
1. Analytical Marketing
Analytical marketing includes everything you can measure from the website, e-newsletters, SEO and SEM, lead generation and lead conversion.
Don’t overthink your digital strategy but do clarify the culture or the targeted audience. Holt has found that very few companies have broken through with digital platforms. The reason? The digital audience’s culture has to match your own. Only by understanding the “crowdculture” can you make an impact with your brand in a digital space.
2. Product or Service Marketing
Customer feedback (positive or negative) is a valuable thing. What are your customers saying?
How can the feedback be used to promote your products and services?
What success have you had? Success should be captured in case studies for external communication.
What are the products and services under development, and how can they be promoted?
3. The Company Brand
Formerly this was just the logo design and the colour. Now it encompasses a much wider remit and originates from the strategy and the company culture. It’s very much related to how the organisation wants to be perceived in the market place.
Sure & Reynolds addresses this through their “Law of Opposites” which encourages you to position your organisation in a unique manner rather than just one more service provider in a crowded market. This includes having a clear “why” (the client will use your services) or Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which make your organisation unique.
4. PR & Communications
Traditionally companies have worried about external communications. Of course, this is important, and the digital vehicles for achieving this now seem endless. Of course, what gets communicated still requires strategy and judgement, but once decided, it is easy to get the message out.
More recently, what has emerged is the importance of internal communication. A growing company is going through constant change. Constant change unsettles team members. The same team members need to come with you on the exciting journey of growing a small to medium-sized business. Develop an internal communications strategy and keep your team up to date with regular presentations. The message should gradually evolve but not change abruptly.
In conclusion: spending money on marketing your business is easy. Spending the money so that it has a direct impact on your sales and business success is more difficult. Everyone loves to see their organisation’s brand on social media or in magazines. However, what is much more important is how the marketing spend is contributing to your overall brand and uniqueness in the market.