Standing Out Through Effective Branding (2)
In the first part of this article we defined a seven step methodology for effective branding. We said specifically that the seven steps to effective branding consist firstly of a step one which entails “defining you brand”, step two: “review your industry market place”; step three: “review your place within the industry; step four: “conduct a brand DNA analysis if you want to be effective”; step five: “deliver the brand promise:; step six: “personalise your brand”; step seven: “conduct mandatory brand reviews”. We discussed the first step and in this article we continue with the next six.
Six More Steps to Effective Branding
The next issue I want to speak to is the issue of reviewing your industry market place. If you work in the automobile sector your industry nuances would be markedly different from if you sell Indomie or Koko king products. So it’s very important to take time to understand the space in which you operate as a brand. If it’s a nation brand it’s important to understand the space you operate in nationally and internationally! How is Brand Ghana positioned against Brand Africa for instance? So within your senior management team or organisational set up you need to note opportunities and threats to your current business model and product or service offerings. So it’s some sort of SWOT analysis, in terms of where I’m strong, where I’m weak, what kind of environmental opportunities there are and what kind of threats I would face short medium to long term. Now, when I spoke about defining your brand I spoke about core strengths but in point two we are going further to do an ascertainment of both strengths and weaknesses in relation to the industry you’re in.
Bernard: So point one is more internal and point two is more external
Prof: Absolutely! Step three is reviewing your place within the industry. Now, brand leaders would have different strategies in comparison with brand followers. Brand start-ups would be different from brands that are peaking. In fact if you look at the standard brand life cycle, brands are given birth to, they grow, they peak and they die. So depending on where you are in your brand life cycle, the applicable marketing and communication tools vary; so you need to understand where you are in your brand life cycle. Again do that as part of reviewing your place within the industry. What is the industry life cycle like and what is your own brand life cycle like and how do the two relate one to the other. It’s very important to understand how your company stands as regards what you’re currently doing, what future businesses you want to go into and then do a very astute analysis of the products and services you currently offer. One thing that totally amazes me working in branding for the last sixteen years is that a lot of people say they have brands but they have no sense of where the products or services are in their respective life cycles. They don’t know whether the products are dying, growing, maturing, peaking, or whether they need to be harvested or not. They just know that have certain products and sometimes they meet targets and sometimes they don’t. It’s very important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your individual products and services as they relate to your products and service brands and even as they relate to your corporate brand.
The next step is conducting a brand DNA analysis. Where are we today? What does our current brand look like? What is our brand essence? What does our company specialise in? What are our product and service unique selling propositions? Are our products and services aligned with the core values of our company? What types of people do the products and services attract? What does my target audience think about my current brand? These are all hard questions to answer when you’re doing a brand DNA analysis.
The next issue I want to discuss is delivering the branded experience. So when you go through all these steps you now have a choice. You have a choice to consistently deliver what your new brand is promising or to weaken it by people having mixed experiences of this brand. This is where you need to have what we call a branded experience where all your internal target audiences, your employees understand the nuances of all the products and services and at every customer touch-point, packaging, logos, touchlines, corporate culture, employee contacts there’s a constant consistent experience that is delivered. I was telling you this morning about the scripture from the book of Ephesians about walking circumspectly not as fools but as wise and that’s particularly relevant here. You know, brand building is about being concentrated, being cautious and being consistent.
Bernard: Actually let me read the scripture so people know what we’re talking about. So the anchor scripture for the presentation which is a morning devotion that you read; Ephesians 5:15 ‘See then that you walk circumspectly not as fools but as wise and of course there’s redeeming the time because the days are evil’ Now, this is what you are birthing your three C’s from?
Prof: Absolutely. For me if you’re going to be an astute brand builder you must understand superior brand building is about concentration, about caution and about consistency. If you can master these three things you’d be fine. Concentration has to do with keeping a tab on all your customers and how their needs are changing, how their needs are evolving, doing your brand life cycle analysis, your product life cycle analysis, understanding what needs to be changed, what needs to be amended. Caution is about watching all the environmental constraints and opportunities that come up and working steadfastly to overcome these constraints and capitalize on opportunities. Consistency is about delivering on point every time without fail.
If you want your brand building campaign or brand to be successful then you have to personalise it. You need to give your brand what we call a clear identity. So consumers must see and experience the personality of your brand in its entirety. At this stage of the brand building you can also invite customers to become what we call co-creators of the brand so that you’re sure that the brands always connect to them in a meaningful and in a significant manner. All flagship brands actually encourage customer-brand interaction by personalising products to meet the needs and preferences of consumers. When you personalise the brand you give consumers reason to participate and engage with the brand for a lifetime. So co-creation of value is key if you want to achieve brand success.
In the last three weeks I have received two requests regarding rebranding. It’s like the hottest thing in Ghana now. Everybody wants to do rebranding and anytime I hear rebranding, I immediately start wondering, “OK, so do you understand what your current brand commitment is? And do you have a clear road map for doing this rebranding in terms of what your new desired position wants to be and in terms of the kind of consumers you want to serve (be they existing consumers or new ones)? It’s useful to do what we mandatory brand reviews so you can get a sense if there’s a need to do rebranding so that’s the last thing I’d like to speak about- what gets measured gets done. Regular reviews would help you to seize and exploit new opportunities while upholding your commitments to remain true to your vision and brand strategy. Companies need to remain true to the brand promises, but there are times when you need to bring some innovation or excitement to the original brand promise.
Ten Special Considerations in establishing strong successful brands
Bernard: Share with us ten keys to establishing strong successful brands
Prof: The first key is the issue of coherence. I really believe in coherence and I think that every CEO, every Rector, every Vice Chancellor, every head of department, every Dean who is listening must understand that it’s very important when we communicate to have coherence and coherence means finding the key brand promise. So think hard about Citi FM, think hard about Ghana Airports Limited, think hard about Bank of Africa, and find out why customers should put faith in your company and your products and make sure that the messages you send to them are coherent in re-enforcing that reason.
Robert E. Hinson is an academic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org