This is the final post in a three-part series on branding. For the first post, go here. For the second, go here
Last week, we discussed solving the above equation which tells us what the most powerful brand positioning opportunities are. Now we must translate the results of that equation into tangible elements that will align with that desired position. This includes some basic elements of messaging (such as the brand name itself, slogans, and core messaging) includes visual elements (logos, typography, and other elements) and also includes voice & tone, which provides guidance as to the overall “feel” of customer interaction and customer-facing communications.
Special focus should be given to the core messaging, as that is where the capability to captivate the audience really lies – especially early on. In order for the brand positioning to be effective, you need the audience to go along with it, and the core messaging is what will deliver the most impact. To be effective, the core messaging needs to do three things. First, you need to make a compelling “why”-type statement. In other words, you need to tell the audience why you’re doing what you’re doing rather than just what it is that you do. Secondly, you need to frame it as a statement that the audience can agree with. You want them to buy into it. Lastly, you need to make it emotionally powerful, such that they become engaged with your brand’s story. The logos and imagery will be important carriers of your brand, in other words they will trigger the association in the minds of the customers, but they actually play a relatively small role in the positioning of the brand. That’s far more about what you have to say and how you say it. The most common error made in initial brand development is focusing too heavily on imagery and visual elements to the detriment of the other aspects.
Once the core brand elements have been determined, it is useful to collect some feedback on them. This can be done via a primary market research study, or even with real-world data collected via a phased rollout. Certain brand elements may be able to be A/B tested to determine which are optionally effective, although you need to be careful not to put too much weight on short-term behavior as the brand is concerned most with long-term impact and the two are not always in alignment.
At this point, you understand your desired position and have formed your core brand elements. It takes a lot of thoughtful effort to get to this point, but this is only the foundation. Brand positioning is the platform upon which the brand is developed and truly built. Ultimately, the brand is created by experiences, and crafting positive experiences for the customers which align with the brand position are the key to making the brand position a reality. What those experiences will vary from brand to brand, but one thing always remains true: helping your customers solve problems is the most likely way to evoke positive emotions. Focus on identifying and solving your customers’ problems, especially in a way which doesn’t require a purchase, and you’ll be on track to develop positive brand value. Do this better than your competitors and you’ll create a competitive brand advantage for your company. (More information on providing superior customer experiences can be found in our latest paper: “Superior Experiences.”)
Whether you are actively shaping it or not, your brand is being developed every day, with every stakeholder interaction. It’s up to you to develop your brand into something that provides positive value for your company. Competitive advantage isn’t all about products and operations – brand plays a very significant role in determining winners and losers. Shape your brand into something valuable, develop it through positive customer experiences, and you’ll position your company to be the winner.