Seven Do's and Don'ts of Brand Development

shutterstock_128032373

Developing a brand isn’t a one-time adventure – it is a journey that lasts as long as your company is in existence. A brand needs to be constantly monitored, measured, maintained, nurtured, improved and leveraged to provide customer value with the intention of earning lifetime loyalty and advocacy. How is this done?

Consider the following seven do’s and don’ts when developing your brand…

1. Don’t look at what your competitors are doing. This may seem counterintuitive, but one of the leading reasons for brand failure is building a brand based on what the competition is doing. You are not your competitors – you started your company because you had something better, different and/or unique to offer, and uncovering that unique brand offering is where brand development begins.

Do build your brand from the inside out. Your parents, teachers and coaches taught you to be yourself – not to follow and imitate someone else. This is the same philosophy you should follow when developing your brand. Who are you? How are you unique? Why do you exist? What are you capable of becoming? Nobody can answer these questions except for you.

2. Don’t boast unique selling points because they sound good, or because you think it’s what your customers want to hear. This is one of the biggest crimes companies commit when defining and promoting their brand. The problem with this “me too” strategy is it makes your brand blend in with every other brand you are competing with. Sure, there are things you’ll need to tout because there are at the thresholds of customer expectations, but when defining your USPs, define them in unique ways that communicate relevant and meaningful brand differentiation that will accelerate people through your sales process.

Do create USP’s you can prove. Whatever it is that you claim – whether it is focused on product quality, service excellence, lead times, culture, or other expectations, make sure you have the proof and the data to back it up. Also make sure you can create the culture and the internal systems to support your brand promise. Think about it this way: When a brand makes a promise it can only kinda-sorta fulfill, customers will be disappointed – or worse, feel as if they were deceived, and may never return.

3. Don’t place your focus on creating a tagline that sounds cool, clever and catchy. You’ve seen them all. They may be memorable, but that doesn’t mean they inspire people to change their buying habits or shift brands into consideration. The ROI of a cute tagline is less than the ROI on your savings account, so don’t be lured into this trap.

Do create a tagline that really defines your business. This can only be done when you have truly defined your brand. If the tagline happens to be clever and catchy, that’s great, but first and foremost, strive for creating one that has the strength and conviction you need to grow such metrics as brand consideration and customer acquisition.

4. Don’t assume your employees will support your new brand because you had an inspirational brand launch. You can spend a substantial amount of money on an inspiring and motivating brand launch, but those emotions you stir up in your staff will settle like a tired dog on your couch the following day. If a motivational speaker like Zig Ziglar or Tony Robbins has ever moved you, you know how that rah-rah moment quickly fades.

Do get everyone involved in living the brand the day after your brand launch. Launching a new brand should be an exciting time for everyone. It’s a new beginning, and you’ll need everyone on your side as well as their help to succeed. You cannot be the brand you wish to be without the help of your people. For example, if your new brand is focused on innovation, you’ll need everyone’s help to create a culture that inspires, encourages and rewards innovative thinking. Introduce a strategy to build your culture of innovation the day of, or at the latest, the day after your new brand launch. Don’t be the leader that is all talk and no action. There are much too many of those!

5. Don’t make promises to your staff that you can’t, or won’t keep. I once had the displeasure of working with a CEO who revoked some rather lofty promises he made to his staff about how things were going to change for the better of the company in the spirit of becoming the new brand. I later learned he had a habit of over-promising and under-delivering, which explained the low morale and lack of respect for leadership throughout the company. There is no rule that dictates what needs to be done when. The only rule is to have a plan and to get moving.

Do follow through. Enough said. 

6. Don’t assume a year later that everyone is living the brand and delivering on your brand promise. Living a brand takes practice, and lots of it, to get to the point where it becomes intuitive and second nature. It requires everyone to think and behave in certain ways. When everyone understands the brand and the vision is clear, decisions are easier to make, there is less conflict and everyone understands what it means to win and how their contributions impact the organization.

Do keep the brand alive. This is best done through building the culture to support your brand. It also includes appointing or hiring someone to be the company’s brand manager. In my opinion, the role of the brand manager is one of the most important in an organization.

7. Don’t forget to promote your brand internally. Just as you want to keep your customers engaged and interested in your brand to earn and maintain their loyalty, you’ll want to do the same to keep your employees engaged and interested in you. Internal brand promotion keeps enthusiasm levels at their peak, which has a direct impact on performance and productivity.

Do post your brand statement with pride in highly visible areas. Your brand should be visible everywhere, in different forms to serve as a constant reminder of why everyone should be excited about getting up in the morning to give you their best.

Remember that your brand is your most important asset, and it’s the reason you are in business. If you follow these seven rules, you will become the brand you want to be, and you will most certainly grow.