Harnessing the Power of Your Authentic Brand Identity

branding, brand management, managing your brand, brand identity, brand audit, brand managementWe spend so much of our time helping companies develop and strengthen their brands that we almost take it for granted that a brand is one of the most important elements of any organization, product or individual. However, we realize that many companies don’t understand or appreciate the importance of a brand, especially when it comes to spending decisions. So, every once in a while, we like to take a step back to remind our audience why a brand is important in the first place.

A company, product or individual brand represents the image or personality of that entity. It’s important because the stronger (more positively viewed) and more consistent a brand is, the greater the likelihood of an organization gaining awareness, generating preference and, ultimately, earning sales and business loyalty from target audiences. A brand should serve to set an entity apart from those it competes with. It doesn’t serve a brand well to take a “same as” approach. This is all about positioning — how do you wish to be viewed? How are your competitors viewed? How can you position yourself relative to those competitors in some meaningful, positive and compelling way to generate desired actions from potential customers?

As Amy Cosper writes for Entrepreneur, “Branding is more than a logo. It’s more than a website. It’s more than a business card. It’s more than the colors and typefaces you choose to represent your company. Your brand is your voice in the marketplace, and it is your proposition for disruption. It is your opportunity to create something with lasting impact. It is how you tell your story, and it is absolutely key to your success and your survival.”

We have a number of blogs on specific, in-depth branding tips and strategies, but in general, brand managers and small-business owners should keep the following steps in mind when it comes to branding:

  • Determine how you would like to be perceived. For example, what are the product/service attributes you with to be known for (again, positioned relative to your competitors and your audiences’ preferences).
  • Determine how you are actually perceived by focusing on your target audiences to gain their input either through quantitative (e.g. surveys) or qualitative (e.g. focus groups, interviews) research.
  • Identify the gaps between how you’d like to be perceived and how you actually are perceived.
  • Take steps to close those gaps. Those steps might including changing/improving products, changing pricing strategies, changing distribution methods and, yes, communication.
  • Measure again to determine if and where gains have been made.

One final point about branding that many businesses — large and small — tend to overlook, or fail to fully understand, is that a brand is not defined by the company; it’s defined by the audience. Companies should seek to understand how their audiences are defining their brands. Companies should also take steps to attempt to influence those brand perceptions; but just because you desire to be viewed a certain way doesn’t mean that you are, or will be.

When in doubt, check it out. You may learn something new.

 

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

Best Practices in Influencer Marketing

 

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