Your customers identify your organisation through your brand. It’s the way you gain recognition and what distinguishes you. However, just like your favourite sports team isn’t just about their jersey, strong branding isn’t just about the application of logos or slogans. Customers with real loyalty to your brand see it as ‘family’. They need to have an emotional commitment to your brand, so they’ll ‘wear it’ with pride. What’s more, that connection drives their engagement choices and habits.
A Nielsen survey recently revealed that almost 60% of customers across the world like to use familiar brands. Further to this, 21% of customers use new products and services because they came from a favourite brand.
So how can your brand become a well-known, well-loved name? First of all, make sure it has appeal and relevance for your customer segments. You need to create and support your branding so that it’s both coherent and repeatable. This requires a lot of work and focus, but if you get it right, you’ll be repaid time and time again.
Create a game plan
Not many people can create or sustain brand consistency if they don’t plan for it. Start by crafting a compelling strategy for your brand. This represents long-term planning to ensure your brand supports your business aims. Developing a game plan will allow you to make your brand unique and connect with your customers’ wants and needs.
Your strategy should at least outline what your brand is offering, its ideal audience, personality, central values, and where you see it fitting into the market. This will help you with brand definition and building a solid identity. Once this is planned out, you’ll know what direction to take when your brand expands and is being shared by increasing numbers of people.
Have a visual playbook
The most effective branding makes products or services recognisable even without a name or logo. You want your brand to have an image that appears instantly in every form of communication, so potential customers know it’s you and can identify your values at once.
This won’t happen without planning. You’ve got to think about your brand’s specific visuals and how you’ll share them. Of course, this includes elements such as fonts, logos, colours, and so on. However, it also encompasses your brand’s personality and character – its humanising traits.
Create a ‘toolbox’ for your brand, which contains these characteristics and brand elements. Once you’ve got this, you can share it with everyone responsible for getting the word out there about your brand: your employees, advertising agencies, freelancers, etc. Having a set brand ‘toolbox’, or playbook, is crucial for maintaining brand consistency.
Allow access to the toolkit
Many brands fail to have a consistent image because they don’t provide the right people with the right information and resources. As well as giving your own teams and partners access to your brand strategy and identity, share your creative assets with them. This may include your photographs, stock images, videos, graphics, logos and more.
For long-term distribution, it’s not practical to keep all these things on your local drives, sharing them via email when needed. The best plan is to keep all your digital assets in one place where they can be easily accessed and searched.
As your toolbox and your workforce expands, you’ll want to make sure that everybody can access your assets at any point and from any location. Many businesses find filesharing services like Dropbox or Google Drive useful for this.
However, it’s all too easy for these asset stores to become disorganised, poorly maintained, and essentially a waste bin for outmoded projects. Using a proper digital asset management (DAM) system can avoid this.
Make teamwork your priority
Your employees are a crucial part of your brand. Brand perception is all about the ways people have interacted with your brand, including your marketers, partners, store staff, customer service personnel, Internet services, etc.
Although creating and supporting your brand begins with strategies and identities, it’s your people who take what you create to the public. This means that every single person in your company has to be knowledgeable and up to speed with your branding. Your brand has to be incorporated into all internal dealings, whether that be a stakeholder presentation or your staff intranet.
All your employees need to be knowledgeable about how important your brand is and how it impacts your success. Your brand has to be a central part of employee induction, training, and internal marketing. Make your brand consistent, and you’re far more likely to have it become integral to your company’s success.
Supervise your brand
If you’re playing a game and people play to different rules, even if it works for one or two players, in general, the majority will become frustrated and give up on the game. The same applies to a brand. As your brand expands, the risk is that people will start to create their own ways of communicating and leveraging it, leading to inconsistencies, errors, and frustrations.
Your brand has to be represented with consistency across every medium and channel, which means you’ve got to provide some supervision. Some companies like to do this by using brand management checklists or by putting approval systems in place, run by team leaders.
Others prefer to have a system that runs more automatically, with inbuilt rights management, version control, user permissions, and expiry rules. These automatic systems can take away a lot of the stress of brand supervision.
As your brand expands, your audience will develop, and what you offer them will change. You have to evolve your branding to match these changes. Sustaining consistency and relevancy of your brand has to be worked at. No matter how your brand develops, always keep your brand identity toolbox and overall game plan front of mind.
Make sure that:
- your team can easily access your brand’s assets
- everybody is on board with your branding strategies
- your brand application is constantly supervised.
Need help developing your brand strategy? Plural is a leading engagement agency with a specialisation in branding. Contact us to learn how we can help you develop an effective, consistent branding strategy.