Mohd Azad Jasmi

By: Azad Jasmi

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Monday, 7-Jul-2008 21:59 Email | Share | Bookmark
Branding II

Analyze You Competition & Realign Your Brand

With the basic elements of your branding strategy in place, you should begin to extend your branding across the marketplace. This is important because much of your strategy’s effectiveness lies in its consistency. To ensure this is achieved, it must be remembered that each time a potential customer or regular customer has any kind of contact with your firm, whether through visiting your company’s website online or simply in seeing a printed advertisement, he or she has what should be understood as a branding experience.

Bearing this in mind, it becomes clear why regularly fine-tuning your branding strategy to better suit the desires of your customers is absolutely crucial. This is especially true if your firm is in a particularly competitive market, up against several rival products or services which claim to do what yours does, and possibly even better, through their own branding. It is specifically your branding that will separate your product from the competitors.

To ensure your branding maintains a strong statement and to continue differentiating it from your rivals’, you will need to regularly assess the competition in your particular market. To perform what could be called a competitive analysis, you should keep track of your competitors’ branding by taking clippings of their advertisements, reviewing any PR coverage they have achieved, researching their online presence by analyzing their website, and even by trying their products or services — especially if they have introduced new products or branding strategies. Then you should decide what especially continues to make your product different — what sets it apart from the rest. It will always be this differentiation that allows you to create an image that remains in customers' imaginations. Therefore, you should continue to be willing to realign your branding strategy to fulfill this fact.

Create A Slogan

Once you have selected an appropriate name, logically the next stage in the branding process is to accompany this with a slogan, or statement summing up your intentions and strengths. For the most effective branding results, the slogan you select should be a short sentence which is memorable or ‘catchy’ and, again, easily remembered by customers. This will then combine with your name to strengthen the branding structures working for your product.

Slogans can be just as difficult as names to create. Saying something powerful and original in a small number of words is a tough part of the branding process. In order to generate ideas for slogans to lead your branding, you should always stay focused on the potential customer. What are they looking for in a product such as yours? What values and aspirations do they expect from a firm producing it? Why should they buy your product in particular? What do the products and slogans of your rivals represent? The slogan you choose should attempt to take into account strong answers to each of these questions.

To help understand why this stage of the branding process is so important; think about slogans prevalent in popular culture today. The phrase ‘Just do it’, representing a proactive, energetic and no-fuss attitude to life, instantly recalls the branding of Nike. When seen, either on billboards or on Nike clothing itself, the customer takes in both these represented values and the Nike name, and comes more and more to associate them as a permanent combination. This is branding at its most effective, and is what anyone or firm choosing a slogan should seek to emulate.

Get The Message Out

Once the above elements of your branding are ready to be put into effect, you should start to think about where your branding campaign is going to be targeted — which areas do you want to reach, and what kind of people do you want to be affected by your branding? In brainstorming at this stage, you should seek to analyze every possibility open to your product, and begin to analyze the feasibility of your firm gaining a presence in these areas.

Like the selection of your branding itself generally, the selection of potential advertising locations for your branding depends heavily on the profile of your desired customer — a profile you will have gauged from the early steps of developing a branding strategy. Think about what your targeted customer does in their daily life. What do they read? Which websites do they visit? Where do they go? What films and television shows do they watch? Where do they eat and drink? Once you have a clearer picture of these things, you should start preparing advertising material and ‘message’ within your branding with which to target these areas.

Different advertising formats require different designs to be effective as part of your branding. You should analyze advertising you know to have been effective, and ask why. If you can afford it, specialists should be brought in to aid you with this stage of the branding process. Online, print, billboard and other locations can then be targeted with branding messages to your potential customers, letting them know that your product is available and persuading them that they want it.

Consolidate Your Message

Each time a customer interacts with any part of your branding strategy, they must know what to expect. This must be an absolutely consistent message. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that your branding strategy is uniform across all marketing channels. You should begin to self-criticize your branding strategy. How consistently is the branding message being communicated? Are any of the messages being delivered through your various programs conflicting?

An obvious example is closely integrating the web and ‘real world’ elements of your branding. Clearly, your online branding strategy — from your website’s main content to soliciting email responses — must be integrated completely with your offline, ‘real world’ branding strategy. This will enable you to deliver one, clear branding message, incorporating the same related logos, slogans and general design elements across a variety of advertising formats. This unified approach to branding is vital if you are to make the most of each of the elements of your strategy.

You should always be willing to fine-tune your branding strategy. This can be done most simply via self-assessment — straightforwardly analyzing what you are doing and thinking of ways in which it could be improved and made into more effective and successful branding. Your firm’s branding and communications should in effect be audited — is there money being spent on branding which is going to waste? Could resources be more effectively allocated elsewhere? In doing this you will constantly be improving and honing your branding strategy.

Analyze Your Customers

It is one thing to analyze your rivals’ branding strategies and work to differentiate yours from theirs, but quite another to be sure that your realigned branding strategy will definitely be effective. Once you know what in particular separates your product from its competitors, you should then seek to discover whether placing this at the forefront of your branding strategy will continue to be popular with your potential customers, and if not, what in fact will. Your branding can then be realigned again.

Important, therefore, is to discover how well you really know and understand them and their aspirations. By thoroughly researching — through online forums, mail-out surveys, focus groups etc — and creating a clear portrait of what your customers want, you will be able to better focus your branding endeavors. Doing this will also enable you to send your branding message to the type of audience that will be most receptive to the original or unique elements of your product, again giving focus to your branding strategy.

However, in this stage of the branding process, it is important to bear in mind that you cannot please every customer in the marketplace. In fact, attempting to make you or your product ‘all things to all people’ will only result in a vague, diluted and rather weak branding. Whereas, clearly defined branding differentiation, based on what your most valuable customers desire, need and generally value the most will result in strong branding and sales.

Let's Innovate The Brand

Delivering on the above branding strategies should bring custom and loyalty from your potential clients. But to ensure their loyalty and faith in your products, and continuing success for your branding, it must be seen to be truthful and honest. The expectations raised by the branding must be felt by consumers to have been met. Therefore, it is not advisable for a branding strategy to market a product as the ‘premier’ example in its field if it is in fact inferior to several other well-known competitors.

Provided you do live up to your branding efforts in this way, the custom it will bring should enable you to succeed competitively, even become a marketplace leader. But this in itself brings requirements as well. To perform like a leader, and to suggest this is true in your branding, means making good on your new branding promises. This essentially requires innovation, leading the way in technologies in your industry and continuing to steal a march on competitors by releasing series of leading products. Customers want to purchase from the leaders in industries, and those who can proudly boast to be so, not usually from middling firms behind the times.

More than ever before, customers consider the wider-ranging experience they enjoy with products, and take this into account before making their purchases, particularly ones of significant cost to them. Consumers now look at multiple product reviews online, read in-depth pieces of information on competing products and pay a lot of attention to testimony from consumer-peers so they may feel confident that their purchase will live up to expectations produced by branding campaigns. In conclusion, this makes matching your branding strategy with real results ever more important. The delivery of effective product becomes branding in and of itself as customers compare experiences and breed more custom and loyalty to your brand.

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