When you manage a brand, you have an image to groom. This is especially true online, where people from all around the world are constantly scrutinizing your brand. What’s more, it takes a very long time to create a positive brand reputation on the Web, but it takes just seconds to ruin it.
What, then, should be monitored to protect your brand’s image and prevent any mishaps? Any posts, feedback, mentions, reviews, testimonials, comments, links and more containing the following should be monitored closely.
Monitoring can be done quite easily by using tools such as RSS Feeds, Google Analytics/Alerts, Hootsuite, and Twitter Search. If you see any flags, respond in a timely manner, while being courteous and professional. Likewise, if you receive positive feedback, show your gratitude- a few words can go a long way and this will help in spreading a positive online image of your brand.
The Basics of Building Brand Equity
Brand equity is a buzzword that is often tossed about in conversation, but not typically defined or measured. So what exactly does it mean? Personally, I like this definition from businessdictionary.com:
A brand's power derived from the goodwill and name recognition it has earned over time, and which translates into higher sales volume and higher profit margins against competing brands.
Brand equity is difficult to measure, but very valuable. Think Coca Cola, Nike and IBM – the world’s top three brands.
So how can you build brand equity for your business, particularly when your budget is stretched? Here are three essential steps to leveraging your brand:
1. Begin with a clear, focused position
The first step to building brand equity is to define your positioning: the single thing your company stands for in relation to your target customers. The emphasis is on a single differentiator: what really matters the most. Is it bend-over-backwards service, unique technology that saves money or the ultimate in luxury? This exercise can sometimes be challenging, but it’s worth the effort.
When you’re defining your position, make sure that you survey internal and external audiences to ensure that their perspective matches yours. If not, there is work to be done to fulfill that promise.
2. Communicate who you are
Now that you’ve definitively determined who you are, you need to communicate that to your target audiences and make sure that the way your company looks and feels to the outside world matches your brand promise. Have a look at your branding program or hire an outside firm to conduct a brand audit. Do your name and logo make the impression you want? And what about your website – this is typically the first place a prospective client goes to learn more about your company. If you’re in a conservative field that requires a high level of trust (legal, accounting, engineering, finance), professionalism is paramount. If you’re marketing to young consumers, fun and edgy might fit the bill. At any rate, you want to look like you’re a going concern and not home-grown.
3. Reinforce the message
A good way to erode your equity is inconsistent branding across different mediums. Ideally, all of your communications materials should have a common look and feel as well as messaging. Also don’t damage your brand by straying away from its values. For example, if you’re a premium brand, resist discounting, ensure that distribution channels are in sync with what is expected of a premium brand, and build consistent associations throughout your promotional campaign.
The above steps are the foundation of a solid brand strategy. Remember: start with a clear, focused position, effectively communicate your message and be diligent in how your brand is represented in the marketplace. You don’t need a big budget to do this – only some time.
“Life is a journey – not a destination” is a phrase we often use. Branding your company is a journey too, but it does have a destination – the success and recognition of your product or service. The time and energy you use to plan your branding journey will serve you well in celebrating the launch of your business, and for many years to come.
The first step in this journey is of course “the name”. In the hypercompetitive world we’re in today, your company and your domain name are key elements in driving consumer traffic your way. Communicating something about your business in your name will likely help reach your target audience faster. However, whether your name is straightforward or metaphorical, it should project a strong image and evoke a sense of authenticity to the customer.
When you get your “name list” down to a few really good ones, try them out on friends or colleagues in your target audience. Pay close attention to their comments and opinions – are you getting your message across? Ask what their impressions of the business would be with each different name. Now, try not to ruin your friendship by making them choose from dozens of options, get your list down to a special three or four names. A good bottle of wine or a lunch date would be a nice exchange for the time and knowledge that they are giving you.
Once you have your name your can carry on with the rest of the steps on your branding and marketing journey. Think about what colours you’d like to use in your logo and how they will help project your image. Do you need a “positioning”, or “tag” line? A memorable tag line can speak volumes about your product or service: ‘Comfort Shoes Inc.”, walk more than a mile in our shoes. On the legal end, make sure to register and licence your company, learn how to protect your name and trademark etc.
Of course all of the above can be done most effectively with the help of a branding and marketing company such as NextPhase Strategy. It’s our business and we can provide the guidance you need on your journey to success. Ultimately, you want your business name to convey the message to your customer that they are in good hands and that your company will get the job done well.