If you were all-knowing and all-powerful, you would have unlimited resources, no competition and able to provide every customer with a perfect service or product. Your brand would be the only name that consumers think of when considering a source to provide their needs. Unfortunately, you must conduct your business in the "real world" rather than an idealized fantasy environment. This means that you need an effective strategy to help you gain or regain control over your brand.
- Determine your objectives and goals. An effective branding strategy begins with well-defined objectives and goals. Make sure that these are properly aligned with the company's business goals as well as the company's key performance indicators.
- Update or establish your company's voice. You should have a consistent voice that communicates your values. The goal is to communicate who you are, why you are the best and what you can offer in a consistent manner.
- Learn all you can about your customers and potential customers. Some key sources of information about consumers are found in social media networks. By leveraging these networks, you can learn a great deal about their preferred channels, most active times, the content they value and the key words they routinely use.
- Create a set of customer personas. Use the information you have collected from social sites and other sources to establish a customer persona. Each persona should represent a particular group of consumers. Your customer personas can help you better understand the behavior of your current or potential customers.
- Chart the touch-points and channels that your company uses currently. The most underused assets are often the digital assets, and as this is an area that can provide you with the greatest momentum, you want to pay special attention to them. Categorize assets as earned, owned or paid. Analyze whether you are leveraging each digital asset properly. For example, do you have a process in place to track how each campaign performs on different channels? Is your message consistent across all channels and touch-points?
- Determine whether you have the tools and technology that you need to support your marketing efforts. For example, do you have the tools to track which content is being shared online and by whom? Can you identify opportunities to cross-promote products?
- Bring your employees into the loop. Your employees can be valuable brand advocates, and they are often the primary contacts that customers have with your brand. You want to make sure that your employees are trained in your brand voice and communicate a consistent message, whether they are dealing directly with a customer or describing your company in their personal LinkedIn profiles.
- Align your budget to match the degree to which your marketing is "broken." Test, analyze and test some more. With a healthy marketing program, roughly 20 percent of your budget may be a sufficient amount to spend on testing. However, if your program is on life support, you might need to earmark 75 percent or more of your budget for testing.
- Have patience. Building a great brand is not instantaneous. It happens one customer at a time, whether your rate of gain is one customer every 0.005 millisecond or one every week. Naturally, you want quick returns, and in some cases, you might be amazed at how quickly your success happens. However, once you have established a good branding strategy, give it time to work. Tweak it along the way, if necessary, but do not abandon it due to unrealistic expectations.
Controlling your brand might not be the easiest task you have ever attempted, but it might be one of the most important. Investing the time and effort to create and manage an effective branding strategy can help you make sure that consumers perceive your company in the manner that you prefer.