How to Develop a Successful Corporate Brand
In order to design and develop a truly great corporate brand, we need to acknowledge that we are all consumers, so above all the marketing hype, the fact is that we all identify with brands! You’ll find it useful to make a note of all the things that you think contribute to your favourite brands, so that you can relate better to brand management.
What is a brand?
The word brand is used to describe the coming together of a number of elements that, collectively, create an identity. The corporate or product logo is probably the most obvious starting point in creating a brand. The colours, shape, font and icon design all convey a message and set the tone for the proposition. A brand is frequently described as having a personality and this is often conveyed through the tone and overall look and feel of everything associated with it. When one thinks back to a happy memory, the association is not just a static picture, it evokes all the senses and this is what a brand is aiming to do. Associate, relate, empathise. Once we understand all of the elements that go into creating a strong brand we can start to put emphasis on the importance of brand positioning. In the first instance we need to understand who the customer is.
In the same way that we get along with different people, we like, we empathise and we identify with different brands. By understanding who our customer is and what they want to achieve from their branding, we can start to position the brand to appeal to them.
Corporate rebranding exercises often take place because the needs of the target customer have changed, so the brand needs to change or be repositioned. Brand management is really about understanding the values associated with a brand and therefore its appeal to the target audience. This understanding leads to online and offline marketing techniques that strengthen, support and ultimately increase the brands perceived value. Research has shown that the stronger the brand, the stronger the long-term viability of the business – customers are often much less price sensitive to brands and therefore a strong brand is often far more profitable than its competitors.
A brand can be a company name such as Virgin (corporate brand), a company name within the Virgin Group such as Virgin Atlantic or a product name such as Virgin Coke.
We call the overall brand the Brand Umbrella, this sits above all the sub or product brands, offering overall values that carry across all of the brands. Each of the sub brands may be in different sectors but are all likely to have a strategic fit. Naming a Brand There are no easy answers to this, it’s a little like naming your children! It’s emotive and ultimately in the hands of the entrepreneur or decision maker.
The brand name must have appeal to the target market – should it be straight forward, aspirational, clever, quirky? Brand renaming exercises can be very high risk, alienating existing customers.
When considering brand names make sure that the names of choice are easy to pronounce, remember and recognise. A brand name can either be suggestive of the product benefits, the company image or its’ positioning within the marketing place - think Easyjet, Virgin and Costcutter respectively. Different research techniques are currently used to test a brand’s validity with its target audience. A mix of qualitative (attitudinal) and quantitative (statistically valid) research techniques are often adopted. Given the budget many companies will start the brand development process by creating a positioning statement. This describes the key positioning for the brand, from the customer’s perspective. With new or developing brands, the positioning may not be clear, so in-depth research is conducted to understand the positioning that best suits the target market.
Some of the challenges include: How to keep consistency across all marketing communications, therefore building brand awareness, whilst keeping the brand fresh and vibrant. Customers change, but is the brand evolving at right pace? – Too fast and you alienate the core, too slow and the brand becomes obsolete. Is pricing right for the brand? – Too high and you alienate your target market, too low and you devalue the brand. The Harvard Business Review sites 10 Brand Commandments as follows:
- Thou shalt not overpromise
- Thou shalt not brag about insignificant competitive advantages
- Thou shalt not get too elitist, arsy or obtuse
- Thou shalt not lie
- Thou shalt not follow directly in the path of your competitors
- Thou shalt not shun fun
- Thou shalt not be inscrutable
- Thou shalt not be a fence straddler
- Thou shalt not kill ideas indiscriminately
- Thou shalt not get bogged down with too many shalt-nots
Online Brand Reputation Management Companies seem very slow to embrace brand reputation management online even though the viral effect of online communication can be almost instant. Moreover, this doesn’t have to be a negative, reactionary strategy, managing reputation online is just as relevant in good times as in bad.
With the emergence of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the voice really is in the hands of consumers online. Many of the techniques adopted to communicate online are similar to those employed to optimise the brands’ online visibility (see search engine optimisation). Most of us are online and use Google to search for a product, service or information on a daily basis. It’s quite common to search for a company name only to find adverse stories written about the company, featuring on page one of Google’s search results.
Many companies never really know how much damage this is doing and all too often large corporations underestimate the negative effect it’s having on their brand. Whether real or not, articles written by seemingly like-minded people online are perceived as credible and, therefore, affect our perception of the company or brand in question.
Pixel8 and your brand
To learn more about developing a successful brand, visit corporate branding or call Jamie Watson at the Pixel8 Design, Marketing and Branding Agency in Manchester, UK on 0161 228 6489 or contact us by e-mail.