The Competitive Analysis
We carefully research your target market, see who your competitors are and learn what they do well and what they do poorly. This is very important because it lets us take advantage of opportunities and low hanging fruit. Often our clients tell us they know who their competitors are. This is a red flag, unless they are seasoned marketers. It’s not about who YOU think your competitors are, it’s about who your CUSTOMERS think your competitors are.
The Value Proposition
What is it that you do differently – and more importantly – BETTER than your competition?
“Outstanding Customer Service” doesn’t count. EVERYONE says that.
This is the most important part of the branding process and the part that even seasoned professionals often don’t seem to understand. And it’s hard. Defining your Value Proposition is a lot like the game of GO. It is a question that takes a second to ask and a lifetime to answer. But if you can answer this one question, marketing is easy. All you have to do then is get your answer in front of as many people as possible.
The business or product name
If we are branding an established business, we may not want to change the name, especially if there is a loyal clientele. As such, each of these steps are optional (Except the first 2). We used to make the Competitive Analysis and Value Proposition optional, but realized how important they are to create a solid foundation that we will turn down a project rather than skip those steps.
Once you have identified your competition and crafted a compelling value proposition, you have a solid foundation to craft a name that sticks. The naming process is very personal, but also has a legal aspect to it. It’s not as simple as just coming up with a great name, we have to make sure it’s not being used by someone else in your sector – and what is even more difficult – we need to secure the domain name or come up with a compelling and memorable url.
The slogan is a one sentence encapsulation of your Value Proposition. What you do differently and BETTER than your competition. The purpose of your name is so people remember you. The purpose of your slogan is to SELL.
Once you have a name that sticks, your slogan tells people the why: Why they should do business with you. Why they should buy your product. Why they should CARE.
It’s not enough to have a recognizable name, you also need a recognizable logo. A good logo builds trust and will help to pull your brand together. Don’t think that you need a symbol or mascot either. Some of the most recognizable brands use just text for their logo. This is especially powerful when you have a sticky name.
Remember though that Branding is NOT creating a logo. That is why it is way down at step five in our process. A great brand almost doesn’t need a logo. If your Value Proposition is awesome everything else is just icing on the cake.
The look of your brand: colors, font, photo style, illustration style, etc…
Design to Impress. Compelling brands have a style and design that is unique, that evokes emotion, and that is relevant to their niche market. Beauty and elegance exude professionalism and trigger feelings of comfort and reassurance which reinforces the value of your brand in the customer’s mind.
The application of the branding across your business
Quality design should be a part of every one of your marketing materials. Your website, logo, brochures, content posted to social networks, emails, etc. should all be designed for maximum aesthetic appeal. Be consistent. To build and maintain a strong brand, every aspect of your brand should be as good as your product or service and you must be consistent in presenting your brand because brand consistency leads to familiarity, and familiarity leads to trust.
Deliver value. Value doesn’t mean lowest price. It means that you are useful and that people need what you offer. This is why all branding starts with the “Value Proposition”.
Keep your promises. You’d be surprised how many small businesses burn bridges with their customers by failing to keep their promises, missing deadlines, going in back order, delivering shoddy merchandise. Happy customers who feel good about your organization are your best source of referrals. Also, it’s a LOT easier to keep your current customers than find new ones.
Stand for something. Think about the brands you love. Do those stand for something (or against something) and connect with their customers emotionally? Chances are they do. What does your organization stand for (or against)?