Q: What are the fundamental aspects a brand needs to communicate to the target market -- especially a newly launched product or brand?
-- Elsworth Nene
A: The key to any successful brand experience lies in one word in the question being posed today, and word is “fundamental.” Too often I see businesses getting sidetracked with tactical nitty-gritty details before they’ve defined the absolutely essential pillars around which their brand should drape and expose itself to the world. For any startup or company launching a new product my advice always goes back to the same thing: do your research, keep it simple and adhere to these four principles:
Related: In Branding, Play the Long Game
1. Proceed with purpose.
Take the time to define your vision and mission and express it through your marketing. Your end goal might be to generate revenue by selling a product or service, but your target audience doesn’t care. They want to know what problem you are trying to solve, how you're going to make them feel and what’s in it for them. Branding is not about trying to be cool. As Mark Zuckerberg expressed last week, Facebook has always tried to make something that’s useful, so think about the value-exchange.
2. Differentiate your company from others.
When I set about creating a branding strategy for clients, one of the most important areas I focus on is the competitive analysis. It’s one of the most overlooked aspects of branding from my experience, plus it always generates much discussion with the client and great ideas arise from any subsequent brainstorm. If you don’t know who your competition is, how can you persuade your target audiences to use your product service and not theirs? If you’re not anticipating their next direction, how do you ever expect to stay a step or two ahead? Showing how you’re different gives customers a reason to dig deeper and learn to love your brand.
3. Be memorable.
Now you’ve demonstrated why you’re so useful and why you’re different, you have to make those notions stick in people’s minds so they buy from you and keep coming back. The strategy here is to create an amazing experience across your entire business. This means building an internal company culture that exudes the brand and makes people want to work for you. This also means creating a digital experience across social media and video channels that people want to share. And this means thinking about every step a customer takes towards a purchase from you and beyond, and how that experience can be social and delightful by design.
4. Make it personal.
Digital and social media has given consumers unprecedented access to information that gets them closer to brands and a more informed choice, so why not encourage natural evangelists in your company to use digital to get closer to consumers who want to interact with a real person. A positive, company-wide social-media policy starts at the top. By compelling your team members to have buttoned-up personal brands you are closing the loop on a company branding strategy that shows unequivocally that you put the customer first and want to foster enduring trust with your audience.
Simplicity is key in any branding strategy. Overthinking and having too many internal considerations can expose your external brand perception as muddy and disjointed. An integrated approach that articulates your company’s purpose, continually seeks to engage your customers in a memorable way and keeps tabs on the competition will set any new business off to a great start. Adding a personal touch by having your executive team lead from the front through their digital footprints will only accelerate your brand on the path to success.