Strategic brand management is both an art and a science.
From positioning to marketing to building equity, your brand’s success relies on a complex mix of creative vision and competitive research. A successful brand is an abstract product that has the potential to bring untold value to you as well as your employees and stakeholders. It’s dependent on dreams and data coming together in a mysterious and beautiful synergy.
If you have an established company and employees, what’s next? In order to maximize your presence and amplify your business’ effect, you might want to consider further developing your company’s brand identity. Even if you already have a developed company with a known brand, strengthening your brand identity could boost your potential for success. The following three stages of brand development can guide you in your pursuit of power in the marketplace.
The Three Stages of Brand Development
Stage 1: Define Your Brand Positioning
Brand positioning isn’t just for those who are starting a new company. It’s a topic that should be revisited regularly as the company grows and evolves.
Remember what it was like when you first started your company? You dreamed, and dreamed, and dreamed some more about what your company would do for the world. You set big-picture goals. You came up with a name that was simple, memorable, and deeply tied to your elaborate vision. You created a logo, a motto, and a brand style guide. You identified key differentiating factors for your company among competitors in your industry. You repeatedly wrote 50- and 100-word elevator pitches. Perhaps you even invested in branded apparel for your employees.
All of these elements combined to create your company’s unique value proposition. You successfully streamlined all those dreams and condensed them into a workable brand identity. Through extensive competitor research and a brazen willingness to cut what needs to be cut, you discovered the perfect niche for your company to occupy in the marketplace. Finally, you achieved the ideal outcome: you eliminated all excess “fluff” and created a brand that was instantly clear and recognizable in the minds of your target customers.
However, as your company evolved, your brand changed. It became less laser-focused and expanded with additional streams of revenue. Your newly hired employees perceived the brand differently than your veteran team leaders. If this becomes a long-term issue, acknowledge it and address it head-on. Don’t be afraid to reposition or even rebuild your brand. Remember that simplicity is especially crucial when you have to regroup and rebrand after your company has evolved into something new. Keep things simple, focused, and clear. Your marketing team will thank you.
Stage 2: Market Your Brand
Before you can get your repositioned brand out into the world, you must develop (or redevelop) buyer personas. These detailed frameworks are crucial to inbound marketing efforts and will help you narrow your brand’s focus.
If you don’t already have solid buyer personas (or even if you do), now is the best time to develop several. For B2C businesses, start with basic demographic information. Dive into the data to identify the age group, marital status, household income, gender, household size, and location of your target customers. For B2B, imagine your ideal client’s industry, job title, education background, ideal customers, and future goals.
For your brand to have the best shot at success, you need to go deep and get personal. Craft a picture of three specific buyer personas as though they are fully fleshed-out characters in a novel of your own creation. Know exactly who these people are, what they struggle with, what they love, and what they want.
Then, go out and get their attention.
Whether you’re investing in a PPC campaign, SEO, thought leadership marketing, social media management, email outreach, affiliate marketing, or anything else, make sure you’re targeting your brand efforts where those buyer personas already spend their time.
There’s no point in spending thousands on an email campaign when all of your ideal customers spend their days scrolling on Instagram. Building a stronger brand identity involves reassessing and, if necessary, recreating your brand image.
Stage 3: Grow Your Equity
Brand equity is the goal of the entire strategic branding process.
Equity is the value that comes from how the public relates to your brand. It’s a thought, an abstract concept, a feeling customers get when they interact with you at various touchpoints. It’s undoubtedly difficult to grow and maintain brand equity. However, if you want your company to have lasting power in the marketplace, you need lots of it.
You can see the power of brand equity by looking at today’s biggest spenders in advertising: car insurance companies.
We’ve all got the slogans for Nationwide, Allstate, and Geico forever ringing in our ears—that means their teams have done an excellent job at marketing their message right to us. They’re already top-of-mind for buyers looking for insurance. Equity, however, is something bigger.
The equity of Allstate, for instance, comes from a mix of reputation, visibility, and meaning. Their messaging plays directly into the ears of concerned spouses and parents who worry about having good insurance coverage in the event of a bad accident. They want to be “in good hands.” Allstate has gained an incredible amount of equity by convincing the public that they’re the company that cares. Depending on who you are, that matters way more than “saving 15% or more on car insurance.”
Even if your company is already well-known in your industry, you can expand your brand’s equity by prioritizing the quality of your product or service. Aim for consistency above all else and focus your efforts on developing two key elements of brand equity:
- Salience. When your customer is buying, how much do they notice your brand? Salience comes from consistently delivering messaging that makes your brand a reliable top-of-mind choice for customers when they enter the ‘buy’ phase.
- Meaning. Your brand has meaning when you strengthen your emotional connection to customers. By building strong relationships and infusing your brand with a meaningful story, you’ll improve the perception of your product. Allstate has this down.
One of the most valuable ways to grow brand equity is to rely on your best source of marketing power: your employees.
Your team has the power to project your brand’s story far and wide to their social networks. Their positive experience at your company infuses that story with meaning. Moreover, the happier they are with the mission, culture, and benefits you offer, the more they’re going to share with the world.
Maximize this often-overlooked stage of brand development by investing in your employees and improving engagement. Leverage the power of custom uniforms and branded apparel to help your message spread even further. With their help, you’ll be well on your way toward building a strong brand identity in the global marketplace.
At Inproma, we’re passionate about helping employees love their jobs. Our fully customized employee incentive programs are proven to motivate and engage employees at all levels of performance—from your highest performers to those who often need a nudge in the right direction. Interested in leveraging your employees for a bigger and better brand identity? Let’s talk.