Our Top Tips for Successful Brand Management
A brand doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s the culmination of many different actions driven by a set of characteristics over time. The result is a brand identity customers come to associate with your company whenever they interact with it.
For example, when you think of Apple, you might think of words like ‘beautiful’, ‘aspirational’ or ‘imaginative’.
When you think of Tesla, ‘exciting’, ’visionary’ or ‘eco-friendly’ might come to mind. You might even think of Elon Musk - yes, even people, such as a company’s founder, can be a part of a brand’s identity too!
Building a brand takes time. But maintaining it so that customers don’t forget about it is a lifelong labour of love.
That’s where brand management comes in. Fortunately, this happens to be one of the things we do best which means we’ve got some great tips to share on how to do this well. Read on to find out what these are and what a good brand management process looks like.
What is brand management?
Put simply, brand management is the process of building a holistic 360 view of a brand’s identity across all touchpoints and channels. It’s also about maintaining this identity. Some of the activities involved in brand management include:
- Creating or redefining a brand’s identity
- Repositioning a brand within the marketplace
- Maintaining brand characteristics and assets
Brand management isn’t always a straight path forward. In fact, it’s more like a guided journey that brings the concept of a brand together. Every company will have its own method, process and set of techniques for dealing with its own brand. That’s part of what makes every brand so special and unique.
Some tips for getting brand management right
While every company will have its own way of handling branding, there are a few key things to consider. When applied, these can make a material difference in how a brand is maintained and communicated for success.
Don’t just create a USP - use it to your advantage
Creating a USP, or Unique Selling Proposition, is one of the most important pillars to brand success. But what happens once you’ve created it?
Do you leave it on a shelf never to be touched again, or do you shout it from the rooftops?
The answer is probably somewhere between these two, though it’s definitely not ‘leave it on a shelf’. Your brand messaging or USP should form the backbone of all your marketing efforts. In addition to this, there'll be countless opportunities for you to integrate that message into what you’re doing - think campaigns, special projects, even packaging or user experience copy. All of these present a prime opportunity to reflect your brand values and message.
So, make sure your USP is baked into everything you do and not something you come up with at a workshop once and forget about weeks later.
Evaluate and then re-evaluate always
When it comes to your brand, evaluation is something that should always be happening. A mistake we see a lot of companies make is treating their brand strategy evaluation as a one-and-done. Instead, evaluation should be a sustained process that allows for reappraisal as you go:
- Keep tabs on-brand assets - Create a list of these as you build and accumulate them.
- Maintain an open dialogue with teams - Check in with those responsible for assets and help them re-evaluate these constantly.
- Re-evaluate and keep re-evaluating - Whether it’s your brand strategy, process for maintaining assets, or the assets themselves, it’s important to keep re-evaluating these on a regular basis.
Don’t let brand assets gather dust
Whether it’s your visual elements, social channels, website, or brand messaging, many things can be considered ‘brand assets’.
And these assets are going to need more than just a little TLC.
Brand assets need attention on a regular, sometimes even a daily basis, to ensure that things stay consistent and in line with your overall brand vision. For instance, you might want to consider creating guidelines and rules for how visual elements are used or updated or checking that tone and messaging is consistent across all copy.
Wondering what a successful brand management process looks like? Every company will have its own version of this, but here are a few important stages we encourage you to keep in mind.
The Brand management process
Start with Purpose
- the discovery phase
Remember Simon Sinek’s theory about ‘Starting with Why’? Well, we believe every brand management process should start with a discovery phase that seeks to answer this question.
What we’re getting at here is the purpose behind your brand - how it was formed, what it looks like currently, and where it is headed in the future.
This is where our own discovery work and brand workshops begin. We start by gathering knowledge about your brand, touching on everything from your vision, products, and services to the culture of your company and niche market space. We then develop better insight into your overall business and marketing strategies as well as who your customers and competitors are.
All of this allows us to discover what drives your brand vision before we begin to look at where it exists within the great marketplace.
Define who you are
- the positioning phase
Once you’ve developed a better understanding of your brand, it’s time to define its position in the marketplace. This stage is all about how your customer sees your brand and where they are likely to place it in their mind’s eye.
First, you need to dive deeper with some analysis around your target customer. Examining the buyer’s journey and pulling out key stats such as metrics, levels of awareness, familiarity, and consideration will help you gain valuable insight into how your customer sees you.
At this point, it’s time to start shaping your brand’s identity. We like to start with essentials like values, brand pillars and key differentiators and work our way up to USP, tone of voice, and personality.
Create, create, create
- the creation & design phase
Now that you’ve taken some time to define your brand, you can move into the creation phase.
Perhaps the most exciting part, this is where you really get to see your brand come to life.
Like a painter layering paint and colour over their initial sketch, you’ll be adding more meaning and context to the ideas you’ve come up with so far.
The characteristics you work on here, from the brand name to its personality, tone of voice (TOV), key messages and communication strategy, will only serve to build on what you’ve just done.
This is where design steps into the picture as well. Design can, in fact, stand alone as its own phase given how powerful visual imagery is at capturing audience attention but is often best when done in tandem with the creation of other assets.
- the implementation phase
Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to track results.
In fact, it’s best to set this process up before any promotional campaigns, advertising or publicity are launched. That will give you a chance to get clear on what KPIs, metrics and targets to measure for success.
Make sure these make sense within the greater context of your business plan and sales & marketing strategy.
This is where you get to use all the tools at your disposal to track how marketing efforts are performing across all channels. While online channels are critical here, it’s important not to forget about offline marketing efforts as well. Any customer touchpoint is a source of data that tells a story about what your customer is experiencing.
To sum everything up
Branding isn’t a straightforward process, but it’s an exciting and dynamic one. Get it right, and you’ve got a brand that will evolve beautifully alongside your business and changing customer behaviour.