The process for developing a brand is usually slow, expensive, and unnecessarily complicated. However, it doesn’t need to be like that and we say that it shouldn’t be like that. The best practices for developing your brand — like any good thing — depends on getting off to the right start. With branding, if you do not have consensus on two key threshold questions, then you risk getting mired in a long and unnecessarily complicated process.
Threshold Question 1: What are we branding?
Before you start on your branding process, you should decide what you are branding. Are you branding your company, a division, a brand line, a product, a service, a solution (mix of products and services) or a something else? While your particular circumstances may make what you are branding obvious, you may well be surprised that you and your team have different ideas on what you are or should be branding.
It will not hurt to make sure that what you are branding is clear. You will face a serious setback if you are not clear on this threshold question and you start building your brand strategy while there is no consensus on what you are branding.
There are a number of different approaches to consider, which include:
- a single overall master brand with your solutions falling under this brand;
- an overall brand with distinct sub-brands for each solution which either fit or don’t fit with your master brand;
- a brand for your one and only solution;
- a distinct brand for each solution or line of solutions.
Threshold Question 2: Who is the Audience for the Brand?
The biggest single threat to your branding process is failure to be clear on your audience.
Many successful teams, before our Distility 1day1brand workshop, come to realize that they are not united on the audience for their brand. Audience usually means something different to different team members. You may be thinking about end users of your solution, one peer is thinking about the buyer and another about an person who influences the buying decision. An example is a surgical device where there is the surgeon (end user), the hospital administrator (buyer) and the patient and health insurance institution (influencers). You will need to decide who you will focus on as your target audience.
A famous example is the “Intel inside” campaigns. Intel decided to target the end user of the computer in which a manufacturer would install their chip. Intel could have chosen a more traditional approach of having their brand strategy targeted to chief technology officers at computer hardware manufacturers, and the ultimate campaigns would have been very different.
If these differences of opinion are left unresolved, then there is a crack in your brand’s foundation and it may be time consuming to back-track to remedy.
How To Resolve these Questions?
To resolve these questions, you and your team can work on your own or hire someone to help. If you decide to work on your own, we refer you to our February, 2011 blog post Critical Branding Conversation: Audience Need; it lists some critical consideration. If you decide to hire someone to help, you can hire an agency, a consultant, or a new hire. While many of our customers do resolve these questions using their internal resources, we have found that a facilitated meeting or two with a branding expert can un-break a log jam or clarify the issues that need to be laid out to make these threshold decisions.