Branding. It sounds simple enough… so what can go wrong? Lots, says branding expert Tania Farrelly.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking just about visual design here, I’m talking about the whole box and dice of brand particularly for service businesses. Lets look at the most common hurdles we encounter on the path to creating and maintaining a great brand. And importantly, how to leap over them.
Hurdle #1. The idea that a Great Brand is about a logo (and it’s size) … isn’t it?
I hesitate to put this mistake in for fear it will insult your intelligence. But still…. one of the #1 things I hear from marketers when reviewing communication, “We need more branding”. When they’re really asking for a big fat logo.
Logos are just visual shorthand for a whole suite of emotional associations choreographed over time. So the idea that you are achieving branding by increasing a logo by 5, 10 or 20 percent is one part fairy-tale, one part madness.
The Leap: The whole communication piece should be a relevant, entertaining expression of brand. If it’s not achieving these things, a big logo wont make up for a lack of brand meaning.
Hurdle #2. Everyone involved in a branding exercise probably has a different concept of ‘brand’
Ask 10 people to define brand and you’ll most likely get 10 different answers ranging from a promise, to a set of associations in consumers’ minds and worst of all “just something marketing does”. And while many are true – you can see how we can get tripped up.
The Leap:Workshop the idea of brand with the team, review some popular and not so popular brands; decide what they mean and what they’re doing right or wrong and agree a team ‘definition’.
Hurdle #3: Thinking creating a brand is ‘Marketings’ job
No. The brand is the business and the business is the brand, this is especially true in service industries where your brand starts with business PURPOSE -closely followed by cultural values, benefits, tone and a kick ass ‘star’ product.
The Leap: All of this must be championed and modelled by the leaders who serve their staff . Everyday, 100%.
Hurdle #4: Thinking a rebrand is the solution for a sick brand
Some businesses think by slapping a fresh coat of paint on their tired old brand they can spruce it up with a bit of visual iconography. While this might attract interest in the short term – it’ll make matters worse in the long term. See point #3 .
The Leap: Fix the business, the people that run it or the people who work in it. Otherwise the old problems will remain and consumers /buyers will be more disenchanted than ever.
Hurdle #5. Not getting emotionally involved
Brands are built on emotions and people buy on emotion. When they don’t buy on emotion, guess what? They buy on price. So how do you get to this intangible holy grail?
The Leap: The first thing to do is figure out what emotions you want people to experience (beyond trust and reassurance – they’re given). Deliver these positive vibes through the product experience first, then reinforce through use of advertising, ambassadors , social media, sponsorships, brand engagements , ‘likeminded brands ‘, creating a character … the list is endless.
Hurdle#6. Seeing Mission and Vision Statements as the be all and end all
While these statements can be very important business compasses – unfortunately -they usually become at best, framed dust gatherers or at worst stimulus for ‘behind closed door’ laughs amongst co-workers. Why? Specialists in the area of Leadership and business performance ‘Leading Teams’ found in their recent survey…
“40 per cent of workers couldn’t remember their organisation’s mission statement. The impact can be profound; those team members that didn’t know their business’ cultural values were more unhappy in their job and thought poorly of management practices.”
The Leap: Focus on a mission which lends day to day business purpose ‘ we exist to….’ and decide how to live these things daily.
Its great to be ambitious but ground that ambition in good behaviour. The old paradigm rings true….(Remember your Under 15 Netball or Footy coach?)… ” Focus on the process and the outcome will take care of itself. ”
Hurdle #7. Using lazy words like Integrity, Quality and Honour
Please. Of course every brand and business wants this. But for heaven’s sake define what you mean.
The Leap: If you want your brand to have integrity what are the commitments it is going to uphold? What are the penalties if it doesn’t? What at a leadership level does this ‘integrity’ look like? How will you tell if it is and isn’t delivered on a daily basis. Dig deeper. Be specific.
Hurdle #8. Disconnected Brand Values and KPI’s
Your brand values are your culture – or will be. To create a great culture the people within it need to BEHAVE in a certain way – from the boss down. (see Hurdle #6). How do you ensure this behaviour happens?
The Leap: Link the desired behaviour to reward and recognition. They need to be part of people’s KPI’s.
Hurdle #9. The Temptation to start from the ‘outside in’
Too often brand strategies are created by external ‘suppliers’ (like me) many of whom use secondary research to ‘come up with’ a brand strategy which is somewhat divorced from the reality of the business. (Not like me). While these strategies are undoubtedly brainy and likely creatively clever – if your people don’t :
a) ‘get it’
b) ‘ feel it’
c) feel like they can deliver it and
d) see a connection to their KPI’s
It wont work.
The Leap: Always start inside out. It starts with your leaders and staff. They should be along for the ride from inception to birth.
Hurdle #10. Expecting consumers (& staff) to embrace change without explanation or involvement
So lets say you’ve flown over these hurdles and ended up with a brilliant holistic brand strategy along with a new look and logo. Your job isn’ t done.
The Leap: The hard work begins in communicating change internally and externally; getting people to be involved with change and own it. Help them really understand WHY and HOW you’ve changed. Take your customers along for the ride , especially your advocates and let them understand , benefit and celebrate the change. They will become great mouth-pieces for you.
If you take the leap over these top ten – you’ll have the inside running to a great (long term, meaningful and sustainable) brand.
Happy times ahead.
Tania Farrelly is the principal at Tania Farrelly Brand Strategy & iSPY Research
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