Marketing and brand development, while a core component of most businesses, is also regularly depicted in television and media today. For those of you that are fans of the TV show Entourage, you may recall the episode where Vince is looking at other agents as an alternative to Ari and went through a series of presentations about how the alternative agencies were going to help develop his personal brand. Iconic brands such as McDonalds and Microsoft were used as examples of brands that have successfully established themselves as iconic from a mainstream sense. While not the primary focus of the episode, Entourage accurately depicted the best case scenario of developing your brand- a strong and positive consumer association with the images associated with the respective business.
One of the most challenging elements for businesses of all sizes is how to effectively tackle and develop their brand. Doing this successfully can be a key driver in separating your organization from the competitive marketplace. Virtually all facets of your business have an impact on your brand, but before we get to several tips that we share with our clients when working with them on a branding project, let’s first take a step back and define what a brand actually is. Most simply, a brand is a person’s perception of a product, experience, service, or organization. Some organizations have a singular brand while others may have multiple brands under a singular umbrella.
Here at Oak Street, we are huge proponents of the philosophy that there is not a one size fits all solution for developing a brand strategy. Virtually all facets of a business and their respective target market impact the analysis on what the best branding strategy is for you. Knowing your audience, what you are trying to accomplish, and how you want your organization to be perceived are three core tenets that need to be considered.
Once you have defined these elements, there are several recommendations that we provide to our clients when they are tackling a branding project. These best practices are a good starting place when mapping out your strategy:
Tip #1: Define your Success Factors
There is not a static definition of what a successful brand looks like- this largely depends on the goals that you have in terms of how you want to be perceived. The first step that we always recommend to our clients is to have a concrete definition of what you are trying to accomplish. This includes how you want your brand to be perceived, how you want your target audience to interact with your brand, and ultimately what your organization is trying to accomplish. For example, if you are looking to be perceived as a luxury product or service, your brand should be reinforcing this goal.
Tip #2: Consider the marketing mediums you are deploying
The marketing mediums that you are looking to deploy has a strong impact on the way that you should be structuring your brand. The ultimate goal of all marketing efforts is to drive the target audience to take some type of action, so you are going to want to make sure that your brand is positioned to allow for this goal to become a reality. Your target audience is going to be a strong influence on the mediums that you are deploying. These different mediums have different best practices in terms of how to best structure your efforts, so your brand needs to have the versatility to allow for these different nuances. For most organizations, an adjustment of strategy does not require a complete rebranding, but more of an evolution or adjustment. Common sense should win out here and the data on the conversions from your efforts are the best measurement of whether your current strategy is working as intended.
Tip #3: Consistency Matters, but it's okay to be flexible
One of the most misunderstood elements of branding projects is that consistency matters above all else. This sentiment is not entirely incorrect, but it is important to retain the flexibility to pivot your brand to allow for the mediums and strategies that your team is deploying. Consistency is important in the regard that you want your target audience to always identify your brand with your organization, but it's more than fine to allow for different iterations as appropriate. For example, how your website is structured for your audience and how your social media is completed should be in alignment, but should also have differences in place to account for the way that consumers are going to interact differently within different platforms. Keeping pieces like your logo static across the board is a best practice, but you are not going to want to adversely impact your marketing initiatives by rigidly sticking to a singular brand strategy.
Tip #4: Continuously Optimize
Regardless of the industry that your organization operates in, the reality is that the competitive landscape is always evolving. Your brand needs to do this as well. The longer that your organization operates, the more data that you are going to collect on your target audience and what they are responding to. When that response is not aligned with what you are trying to accomplish, this is a great indication that your brand needs to evolve. Regularly we see large scale rebrandings in companies of all sizes and you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to justify this effort. Your organization should have a core mission statement about what they are trying to accomplish and your brand needs to be positioned to make this mission a reality. Taking the approach that your brand will be evolving over time is the right mindset to approach these projects.
No two branding projects are going to look the exact same, so if you need help getting started with your organization, we here at Oak Street are here to help. Reach out to one of our experts for a free consultation and we can help your organization’s brand take the next step.