- 1 How to manage your brand along its journey.
- 2 Where are you on your brand journey?
- 3 360 brand management process
- 4 Discovering the true value of your brand.
- 5 Defining your brand's unique place.
- 6 Creating your brand's individual attributes.
- 7 Developing your brand's visual image.
- 8 Tracking results and performance.
- 9 Download the eBook.
How to manage your brand along its journey.
As the volume of companies competing for customer attention increases, effective brand management has become a clear market differentiator. Therefore there has never been a more important time to develop a unique identity and value proposition through strategic branding.
The creation of a successful brand doesn’t happen by chance; instead, it’s a set of actions taken to cultivate a brand, underpinned by a set of characteristics to steer and reinforce its identity over time. So while building a brand is fundamental to any business that wants to be successful, maintaining it is too, ensuring it stays relevant as consumer behaviour changes.
For large or small companies alike, branding should be at the centre of all marketing activity. To follow this principle, the development of a strategic brand management process will help to ensure that your brand is accurately represented and portrayed at all times to your target audience.
When done correctly, branding achieves a powerful combination of design, language, and experience, that manifests itself into a very specific feeling. These feelings, that are passionately and emotionally driven, can promote high-value loyalty and affinity that branding alone can achieve.
Where are you on your brand journey?
When you align the needle of a compass to the north, your position becomes clear and your direction can be set.
The same principle applies to your brand, and the understanding of where you are going, as well as where you have come from become vitally important.
This brand management process aims to help individuals, company owners and brand managers to gain a holistic view of brand management, intended to help them through their brand’s journey, whether that’s:
- Developing a new brand identity
- Repositioning an existing brand
- Ongoing control of an established brand
- Or your personal branding and identity
This brand management process is not a set path that needs to be followed, but rather a logical guide to help you grasp the overall concept of brand management allowing you to apply your own experience and techniques along the way.
It is explained at a high level that makes it very clear for you to view the whole landscape. A closer look into each subject will enable you to expand your knowledge and gain a more detailed view of your surroundings.
360 brand management process
There are 10 steps and 4 phases within the brand management process designed to support you with your branding requirements. So whether you are developing a new identity, or have a well-established brand, this guide can be applied at any point along your brand’s journey and can start at any stage within the branding process.
Discovering the true value of your brand.
The discovery phase is a comprehensive brand audit that will help you to understand the purpose behind your brand, where it has come from, where it stands currently, and where you want to take it in the future.
The audit will focus; internally within your company, and externally with your customers, target market and your competition.
Internally it will examine your brand’s products, services, and people, it’s business plan and sales and marketing approach.
Externally, it will examine its niche market and how the target audience perceives your brand. Analysis of your brand’s competitors will include market share and positioning, sales and marketing activity, distribution and pricing.
A more detailed customer review can be done in the next step that focuses on your marketing funnel and customer journey enabling you to fine-tune your brand positioning.
The discovery phase will provide insight and a baseline view of:
- Your brand’s vision and roadmap for the future
- It’s business plan and marketing strategy
- How your brand is perceived internally and externally
- Insight into your competitors and their market positioning
The audit can be completed in full, or in part, depending on your own business requirements. This information will then become the foundation on which to set your brands goals, build a strategy and align all areas of the business where required.
Step 1: Knowlege.
Your brand vision is the story of your business that outlines where you come from, and where you want to go. It involves asking the following questions: What is your business about; how do you help people; what goals are you trying to achieve, and how will you achieve them.
Your niche is the market you serve within your specialist field together with what differentiates your business and brand from others. Gaining a detailed understanding this is very important in order identify, follow, analyse and track your major competitors.
Your customer touchpoints or customer journey are your brand’s points of customer contact, which includes before, during and after they make a purchase. Understanding each touchpoint is fundamental to managing each interaction, so a detailed list needs to be defined.
Although for many brands this may be straightforward, for others it’s a complex task, required as part of an audit for further analysis and market positioning. A company can have products that span multiple markets, and for this, defining products by brand is typically the best approach.
As per the requirements for products, services need to be listed, and as they can be less tangible, clear descriptions need to be defined.
Your company’s culture is defined by practices and beliefs that are usually expressed in a set of values. Understanding these values is important as they may form an intrinsic element of your brand’s voice or tone as expressed to the market and to your customers
Step 2: Insight.
Business strategy and brand strategy need to work hand-in-hand. Gaining an insight and understanding of your business plan is therefore a key part of the brand management process, necessary to ensure clear alignment between the brand and business strategy. This alignment makes your brand better positioned for success, helping bring greater clarity and differentiation in order to create a roadmap that is tailored toward your brand’s short- and long-term growth.
Sales and marketing
It’s important to know the understand the clear differences between sales, marketing and branding. Any form of sales and marketing activity should remain distinct and complementary aspects to the branding approach. Branding should both precede and underlie any sales and marketing activities by establishing a strategic foundation for its operation. With this principle in place a brand strategy can be clearly defined.
A go-to-market-strategy is focuses on market offerings to reach market penetration, revenue and profitability targets and is focused on the entire product lifecycle. Your GTM and brand strategy need to be inextricably linked in order to be truly successful in achieving your business goals.
Your brand is defined by your customers as it’s the experience that sticks in their mind that is associated with your product, service, or organisation There is a continual need to maintain a clear understanding of the evolving needs of your customers to stay current and relevant.
Just as you need to understand and define your own brand, you need to know all the details you can about your competitors in order to position your brand in preparation for strategic and tactical marketing activities.
A brand is like a flag, conveying everything about its people, culture, beliefs and values.
Defining your brand's unique place.
Brand positioning is the process of placing your brand in the mind of your customers with predetermined values and differentiation. Determining your current market position will give you valuable insight into where to go next in developing your branding strategy and planning.
Having gathered all the information needed from the discovery phase, further analysis is required in order to assess customer interactions with your brand. This includes how your brand is attracting customers compared to the competition. At this stage of the process, a closer examination of the buyer journey, particularly at the top end of the funnel, will help you to gauge the current awareness, familiarity, and consideration given to your brand.
Understanding this journey and touchpoints will enable better positioning at the moments of maximum influence, therefore increasing the chance of reaching consumers in the right place at the right time with the right message.
The next step is to develop and understand the true meaning and purpose of your brand. This is achieved through the cumulative knowledge and insight gained from the discovery phase, with a particular focus on your brand’s vision, its niche, customer profile, and competitors. Here you will establish your brand’s foundations, its pillars and key differentiators which together will form its uniqueness and enable you to finalise your positioning statement.
Your brand positioning will drive your marketing strategy and aid in the creation of its overall brand identity and image.
Your brand positioning will drive your marketing strategy and aid in the creation of its overall brand identity and image.
Step 3: Analyse.
For existing and established brands, analysis of the brands performance, past and present, is important to understand for brand management purposes, including brand development, repositioning and new brand development. It also influences campaign strategies and tactical marketing initiatives that may be rolled out over time. There are many metrics and KPIs that can be used to measure brand perception, and examples of the some of the most important ones are highlighted below. Others are covered within the results section under monitoring and can be applied to this section where more analysis is required.
The brand awareness metric tracks name recognition or visibility of your brand, much of which can be done in real time via the internet and various tools available. There are many KPIs that can be used for this including; search volume that tracks your brand by name, site traffic, which gauges the level of interest surrounding your brand, social noise analysing social media presence and organic reach that lists the number of unique accounts that have seen a post or a specific piece of content.
The familiarity metric is a higher standard than awareness as it is a measure of the knowledge and understanding the potential customer has about your brand. That includes what your brand stands for and its values, or at least the values perceived by the viewer. The higher the brand awareness, the stronger the brand is on almost every dimension.
The consideration metric is based on purchase intent and is an important part of a customer’s journey towards a purchase. The measurement of this is therefore important to understand why your (potential) customers want to buy your brand, what is stopping them, and how they can be influenced further in order to make a purchase.
Step 4: Define.
For a new brand or startup, its values form the basis of your culture, your service, your product and your communications and need to be defined in parallel to building your business, product or service. For established organisations, brand values are the uncompromising truths and guiding principles that articulate what you stand for, and the primary driving force behind your brand, business, behaviours and decisions.
A solid brand strategy starts with the identification of the core company product and service pillars that make up the foundation of your brand. These pillars become the non-debatable, non-subjective fundamental truths and remain constant throughout the lifetime of your brand. They will complement your brand’s visual image, reflecting your brand’s purpose, creating clarity by focusing on core elements that together create something compelling, distinctive and relevant.
As branding becomes more competitive, differentiation must be a top priority in your marketing strategy. Simply being better than other brands no longer creates a sustainable advantage, therefore it’s essential to identify and develop your key differentiators. These differentiators will become a robust set of unique features and benefits that will become the basis for how you establish and maintain your competitive advantage.
Your brand positioning statement is like your elevator pitch; it is a short section of text that clearly defines what your company stands for and why it exits. It should include what you offer, who is your target audience, how you are positioned against your competitors, and your value proposition. Your positioning statement can be crafted once all the fundamentals of your brand our in place, including the brand essence, core values and key differentiators and when your brand pillars have been clearly defined.
Creating your brand's individual attributes.
Having established how and where best your brand should be positioned within the market, the next step is to create your brand’s characteristics that will add context and meaning to its basic structure developed so far in the brand management process.
Your brand’s personality should be derived from keywords that best describe its character as if your brand was a person. To achieve this, attributes should be listed, which state how you want your brand to be perceived by your target audience, and how you want to make them feel. This development process will start to build character to your brand, and next, personality traits need to be added to really bring your branding to life.
Now is the optimum point to develop a brand name. If it has already been done, now is the time to validate it and ensure it fits with the brand personality that has been carefully crafted.
By following all of the steps within the creation phase, you will be able to accomplish:
- A brand name and descriptive identity
- The brand’s personality and its tone of voice
- An understanding of the brand essence
- Your value proposition and key messaging
- A content and communications strategy approach
- Brand name registration and protection
This process may take some time and require significant input and can be beneficial if done in parallel with the design phase.
Step 5: Prepare.
Creating your brand attributes will enable you to portray your company’s brand characteristics which must be gathered to help in the development and creation of your brand identity. These attributes will become a bundle of features that highlight the physical and personality aspects of your brand that are depicted through images, actions, or presumptions. Attributes can include the need to be; relevant, consistent, credible, inspirational and appealing.
Your brand essence is the heart and soul that defines your brand. It can be an intangible attribute, a mantra or a few clearly articulated words that can manifest themselves into a brand’s tagline. Whether you have an established brand or are building a new one, the development of a brand essence will become a key building block to branding success. It will help you to define your brand, give it meaning and added value, and differentiate it against the competition.
The brand personality you develop for your product or service will become the human characteristics you give to your identity, and will become the driving force behind the overall brand experience. Establishing a brand personality is a key aspect of the brand management process as it is a unique element that will bring your brand to life, creating meaningful connections and relationships, rather than just transactional activities.
Defining a content strategy early on in the branding process will help guide better decision-making and close-knit communications. The content strategy should include goals together with what information is necessary to guide your strategic marketing decisions. Clear objectives should be defined that are aligned with your brand’s target audience, customer journey, channels and messaging.
Step 6: Create.
Deciding on a brand name can be a difficult task, and to get it right, it’s helpful to have a clearly defined story. This requires solid preparation, and the work to achieve this is laid out step-by-step within this brand management process. When you have been through the exercise of discovery and positioning, including the various elements required to build a new brand, have your brand values and pillars completed, you are ready to start the naming process. There are a number of steps to follow to ensure you get it right, however in essence, your brand name is your story distilled to its shortest form. It must stand for something, be able to grab people’s attention, be timeless, tireless, easy to say and remember and facilitate brand extensions, a tagline and slogans.
After defining who you are and what you are as a brand, arguably the most important thing is what you say, and how you say it. Therefore messaging must be at the centre of everything you do, both in written and verbal form. Your brand’s messaging is the consistent underlying value proposition that is applied to all your communications, both internally and externally. It’s what makes people relate to your brand – by inspiring, persuading, and motivating them, attracting and ultimately retaining them as employees and customers.
Tone of voice
Your brand’s tone of voice is its attitude, which means how your brand speaks to its audience. Combining personality and tone of voice creates your brand style in written form, but in the long run, it’s tone that separates the average from the best and needs to be consistent throughout all your brand communications.
After creating your brand name, protecting your newly created asset is an important step that should be taken early in the branding process.
Developing your brand's visual image.
A brand’s visual image is the most powerful way to capture attention and build brand recognition as it delivers its message in the shortest possible time.
Your logo design should reflect the essence of your brand and the key elements that were built within the positioning and creation phase. If done correctly, your brand image will encapsulate everything your brand stands for, and want to convey to your target market.
When developing your logo design, your aim should be to make it simple, enabling it to be quickly decoded through the human eye, so typography, shapes, colours, and space must be combined to create a highly effective identity. Certain visual characteristics can be more prominent like its colour or boldness to reflect its attitude and personality.
Your tagline should be an integral part of the logo as it tells people who you are and what you stand for, rather than what you do.
The application phase includes the production of all the marketing and communication material, promotions, campaigns and slogans, all that must stay true to your brand image.
To ensure the integrity of your brand identity, guidelines must be in place to protect its application, explaining how your brand should be used both internally and externally. These guidelines should be comprehensive enough so that everyone in the company can refer to them to know how their brand should be represented.
Step 7: Design.
Logo and tagline
Your logo design is the core element of your brand identity and when being developed, must stay true to the company’s values and ideas. It should be simple, unique and create instant recognition within the minds of your target audience. Your tagline is an expression of your brand, it should be catchy and meaningful and underpin the overall positioning of your brand in a way that conveys life and character. Unlike a brand slogan that changes with campaigns, your tagline should remain constant, and over time, become synonymous with your brand.
The graphic style of your brand is the way it is portrayed visually and requires careful consideration. Your brand logo and graphic style should be developed together to achieve the desired look and feel for your brand identity. To develop this style, brand attributes should be reviewed to create a graphic style that will resonate with in intended audience. This will include key elements like typography, photography, graphic images, icons and illustrations, which when combined, will visually represent the brand’s essence, values and personality.
Brand attributes and competitive research are components of the brand management process required to help define your brand’s colour palette. Creating the right feeling and mood for your brand is important, and while certain colours elicit certain emotions, predicting consumer reaction to colour appropriateness is actually far more important than the colours themselves. When defined, the colours will reinforce both the brand’s values and the personality of the products and services it offers.
Guidelines form the standards and specifications of your brand’s visual and descriptive identity with the purpose of ensuring consistency and brand integrity across all marketing and communications.
Step 8: Produce.
Marketing promotion is an important and overarching method of getting your brand and its core values out into the public domain. It focuses on the broader aspect of promotion covering the four elements of the marketing mix within your business being (product, price, promotion or distribution). These types of promotional activities are generally aimed at increasing customer awareness and can include advertisements, press releases, web sites, and personal sales efforts.
Campaigns and slogans
Brand marketing campaigns are planned, strategic and highly targeted efforts to promote a specific goal, such as raising awareness of a new product or capturing customer feedback. They typically aim to reach consumers in a variety of ways and involve a combination of media including email, pay-per-click, advertising, and social media. Slogans are applied to the campaign to give it a specific and consistent theme to promote its core message. As a rule of thumb, a campaign should run for six weeks to create maximum impact and last no longer than eight weeks to ensure it doesn’t become too familiar with its audience.
A combination of promotional channels create the media mix that is used to promote your brand and deliver on its marketing objectives. Deciding on the right channels, where and when to promote them now requires greater scrutiny as sales channels become more diversified and customer journeys become more complex. Therefore understanding your customer profile through segmentation and persona is paramount in order to deliver a highly effective and fully integrated media strategy.
Mobile is the most targeted, personalised, real-time marketing channel available, and the use of Apps should be integrated promotional element for your brand as it offers a unique way to engage your consumers.
Tracking results and performance.
Before you start the rollout of any advertising, promotional campaigns or publicity, you should have clearly defined metrics, KPIs and targets in place to measure its success. They should be aligned with your company’s business plan, sales and marketing strategy, existing brand performance data and competitive benchmarking.
For tracking brand performance online, like social media or email marketing, there are a plethora of tools available that will help you with the analysis and measurement. For an offline activity like press advertising, custom landing pages offer the best solution as they will measure web traffic diverted to the site.
Measuring customer engagement based on experience and association can be a challenge, however, looking at ways to capture this information is the key to understand how your brand is perceived and rooted in the minds of your customers. A closer look at touchpoints will enable you to best see where and how this can be measured.
In addition, analysis of the sales funnel targeted towards the lower end of the funnel should be conducted in order to track purchasing habits based on the push from marketing efforts and the pull from consumers. Customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy should also be measured to fully understand the final steps of the customer journey.
Selecting between 5 and 10 KPIs would be the most optimal, then fine-tuning your efforts at the earliest opportunity will help bring greater clarity to your campaign and the behaviour of your target audience.
Step 9: Rollout.
Advertising and publicity
When it comes to creating awareness, brand advertising will encapsulate the essence, values and personality of your brand, and is used to establish a connection and bonding with its intended audience over time. Direct response advertising is used to initiate an immediate response compelling prospects to take action. Adding publicity into the mix can be a powerful and cost effective brand building tool, and for smaller companies, this can be a cost-effective substitute for brand advertising.
Web and e-commerce
Your website is your shop window that says everything about your brand and your values at a glance. And for your brand to be successful online, it must be highly recognisable, engaging and truly authentic. To achieve this, your website or online e-commerce shop must contain the key ingredients for success to ensure a unique user experience. This should include, clear calls to action, a refined user interface, highly impactful, relevant, engaging messages and resources, and underpinned by a fully optimised and integrated SEO structure.
Email marketing can be an effective way to build brand awareness as well as increase sales as it gives you complete control of what, how, when and the way you communicate with your customers. It will enable you to create direct links with your audience and when set up correctly, can help leverage the ROI of your marketing campaign.
A social media presence is becoming a must for all modern-day brands to connect with their customers. To effectively make this connection, quality content should at the heart of all your communications strategy, born out of your brands core values and personality. Delivering high-value content, imagery and information across your chosen platforms will give your brand the stage for its messages, creating strong customer engagement.
Step 10: Monitor.
Associations refer to particular thoughts and impressions created by a brand. Gauging the impact of brand association can be done by assessing brand attitude and differentiation.
The key to effective brand management is to create a positive and memorable brand experience which is generated via the different touchpoints you and your brand has with its customers. Measuring its effectiveness includes analysis of social media, subscriptions, database volume and sales.
Your sales funnel is how you attract, convert, close and retain your customers and it’s one of the most important business metrics that requires careful analysis. However your sales funnel is segmented, the metrics near the end of the buying journey measure conversions rates and costs and tell you a lot about your customers purchasing behaviours.
Obtaining brand loyalty is a very important aspect of brand marketing as it’s a measurement of how likely consumers are to continue to give you their business. The most effective way to measure brand loyalty is through surveys with defined metrics where feedback can be collected from your existing customers.
Track and adjust
Whether you are launching a new brand, or in the middle of a rollout of a promotional campaign, tracking its performance should be key and integral part of the brand management process. While lessons can be learnt and adjusted over time on some marketing elements, other web-based aspects can be analysed and adjusted in real time to increase its effectiveness in response to customer behaviour or market conditions.