There is one message or idea we’ve really been reminding our clients recently and it’s all about branding. The message is simple; you are not just your product. To build a successful brand, it takes a whole lot more.
To be clear, great branding won’t save a bad product, and a great product is wasted with bad branding. Branding is something bigger than a single product and it’s more than marketing what you make, provide, or sell. Branding is a story that we need to tell over and over. Sometimes, it’s a story we spend years telling and invest time and money reminding people of. Done right, that story in association, and understanding of what your brand means every time a consumer sees your logo or product.
Branding takes strategy. Developing an effective brand strategy is a broad, vague process for some companies, but for Q+M, we can usually boil it down to three key questions that help develop not a product, or a marketing campaign, but a story about who our clients are as a company and what it means to wear their shirt, drive their car, or eat their pizza. Here are those three questions; can your team answer them? Send this to your team and see if everyone understands what your brand is all about.
Who Are We Talking To?
One of the toughest conversations to have these days is determining the right audience. A lot of that starts with being honest with ourselves, not simply looking at the market. Instead of trying to identify the perfect customer, take the time to really learn who you’re actually reaching right now. Google Analytics, social media metrics, and other tools allow brands to get an historical and real-time look at the sort of customers they’re successfully reaching and the platforms that are helping to get the message across. Understanding who is hearing your message now, and how they’re hearing it, should go a long ways toward shaping what you’re saying in future.
It can even be less granular than that. Let’s say you sell cat food. In some sense, you should be talking to every person who owns a cat. In a perfect world, and armed with an unlimited budget, your brand could focus on speaking to every single cat owner. Instead, and more realistically, you may find that your brand appeals more to cat owners who value low cost, organic ingredients, or certain dietary restrictions. In each scenario, who you’re talking to is different.
Who Are We?
This is where the story starts. Creating your story begins with decide what will happen next, and just like in our lives, brands are made up of everything we do and don’t do, everything we say and don’t say. The goal is to nail down who your company is, and who it isn’t. It can be a difficult process, but by identifying a few this-is-in-our-blood ideas, you’re not just developing the face of your brand, but shaping what connects you to future customers.
Again, you sell cat food. Some of the core tenants of your brand might be that you believe all cats deserve a specialized diet that caters to their age, size, and overall health. You may also believe that all cat owners should be able to find great tasting cat food made from high-quality, natural ingredients without having to take out a mortgage to pay for it. Those core ideals shape who you are; a company that cares about feline health and more equitable access to great nutrition for all cat owners.
How Are We Combining Who We’re Talking To And Who We Are?
Again, this is an exercise that goes beyond your next marketing campaign. Answering these questions should shape every aspect of your company; it should define the roles of employees within your company, it should reflect in what you make, how you sell it, and inform the way you position your product.
Sounds easy? It’s not. If it was, companies like Q+M wouldn’t exist. Branding strategy is a constant story that we can never stop telling.
Alright, cat food company. You’re already a hit with health-conscious cat owners that tend to be middle or lower income. Your analytics tell you that the core demographic of your audience tends to be rural.
Will your company focus on wholesale contracts with brands like Costco and WalMart that tend to provide easier access to rural areas? Can you create an ecommerce platform and shipping infrastructure that focuses on direct-to-consumer sales? Where will you spend your limited marketing budget, and what assets will you need to support your sales team?
Without a brand, you don’t have marketing. Without marketing, you don’t have business.
For both, let’s talk.