The Trick to Brand Building? There is no Trick!

In marketing, as in other areas of business I suppose, it seems that we are always looking for the “magic bullet” — the quick trick that will lead to exceptional success. But in business, reward rarely comes without risk. One area of risk for any organization is brand building. Many are looking for the magic bullet here, as well–that quick trick that will lead to brand success.

Unfortunately, there is no trick! There are just some basic, tried and true best practices that the big brands follow. Even they, though, are constantly subject to brand erosion if they don’t continue to take steps to monitor, measure and manage their brands effectively. Brand managers in the 21st century are fortunate because, despite the proliferation of online communication from the masses which can significantly impact brands, either positively or negatively, brand building is as it ever was. There is nothing new about the process of brand management. It’s  just that the type and number of communication tools has changed, not only for brand managers, but most importantly for those that interact with their brands. Brand building is all about understanding how your audience defines your brand (important point: THEY define it, you don’t!) and then taking steps to manage those perceptions to align them with how you wish to be perceived.

That means ensuring alignment of all elements of the marketing mix: product, price, place and promotion. Too often marketers and business professionals tend to think of brand building as involving only the promotional aspects of the mix. Not so. Without a strong and valued product (or service) at a price that delivers value and is delivered in a manner that is accessible, convenient and easy to use for consumers, all the promotion in the world won’t boost a bad brand.

What works today is first evaluating your current brand positioning which includes each and every touch point that consumers have with you and your organization. For an online business that would involve online touch points, particularly the web site and the ordering process. For bricks and mortar businesses that would involve every element of your business from how easy it is to get to, to parking, to signage, to staff. For service businesses it becomes even more complex — because you have no tangible product, people are your product. Their actions and behaviors are even more impactful in terms of building–or damaging–brand than for other businesses.

Without a solid product, price and place, it doesn’t make sense to spend time promoting because you’re likely to be over-promising and under-delivering. But, assuming your brand is strong, promotion becomes a matter of thoroughly understanding your audience so you can choose both the distribution channels (e.g. direct mail, social media, traditional media, digital advertising, etc.) and the messages that will generate the results you’re looking for.

Finally, in this world of rabid, online communication, you must be taking steps to continually monitor what is being said about you, your products and services. Just because you don’t have an active online presence, or don’t use social media, doesn’t mean that others aren’t talking about you. The big question, though, is: Do you know what they’re saying?

by Linda Pophal

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