Every solid marketing plan begins with a solid brand
Since we are talking about marketing and advertising, let’s back up one step and talk about branding. The world moves quickly, and successful businesses move almost as quickly to keep up or set the pace. The most critical thing for you to do before jumping in is to identify who you are and what your product or service is, really.
Wikipedia says the justification for branding is to “create an emotional connection between products, companies and their customers and constituents.” What the heck does that mean? That emotional connection is establishing a need, a want and a desire to show you are influencing or being influenced by someone or something.
SOLID BUSINESS BRANDING: WHAT’S IN A NAME
Walmart, for instance, sends the message that it is a good value, as there is always plenty of inventory in a “mart” environment. The name itself sounds easy to access and elicits the idea that the company is family-oriented and its products are always available at value prices. The name Sotheby’s, on the other hand, sounds sophisticated, special and elite. It lets you know that many unique and special things await you there.
Branding should be strewn throughout your marketing and advertising. It will be what ties the two together and brings your ideas to life. A brand makes you much more than just an ad or a marketing campaign. A brand is who you are. So when I refer to my organization “Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World™,” my hope is that the name exudes importance and hopefully inspires the desire for women to know more or become one.
BRANDING MEANS A GAME OF RELEVANCY
Let’s use the iPhone as an example of how Apple has gotten product roll outs down to a science. The company consistently has lines of people waiting overnight to be one of the first to buy its product. There are no commercials that push or celebrate the company as a whole. Instead, Apple demonstrates the social “feel goods” and experiences consumers are missing out on by NOT getting the newest Apple stuff. (Never mind the fact that those of us who are a little older and haven’t quite embraced the ease of new technology will suffer through a new learning curve!)
So, how are you making yourself necessary? What sets you apart from the rest, even if your product is similar? Will you help your customer stay on the cutting-edge? Know the latest information? Feel secure that you have them on the safest and correct path? Have opened their eyes to a brand-new them they didn’t know was buried inside? In other words, why do they have to have what you are offering and how will it influence or change their life?
All of these things you come up with need to be imparted by your look, your tagline, your logo, your color scheme, your attitude, your employees and your customers. Everyone and everything should scream what you stand for and why you matter. If it doesn’t, then how will anyone become aware of it above all the other noise that is out there competing with you?
ONE REMAINING CONSTANT WITH SUCCESSFUL BRANDING
If it seems like I am asking more questions then giving answers, this time I am. A brand is something that is highly personal to the inventor or group that represents the product. You take your time to establish it and make limited and subtle changes as if it is “who you are.” So how can it change so quickly? If the public “needs” what you provide, how can you keep changing what that is?
I am not saying branding doesn’t change. Everything changes. The look can change, and the cost of products or timing of service or product can change. The reason to change a brand might be because you have broadened your scope, but the basic brand should never change without a lot of consideration.. After all, your brand is the core of who you are and what you stand for.
Column by Cheryl Womack
Cheryl Womack is chairperson and CEO of The Star Group and VCW Holdings. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the writer and are not endorsed by Anthem Publishing or its subsidiaries. To respond to this column, send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.