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Branding: A Promise You Keep

It’s an old truism that a company’s brand is its most important asset. When executed correctly, an effective brand strategy establishes a significant and differentiated presence in the market that helps attract and retain loyal customers.

Let’s first establish what is meant by a brand.  Simply put, it’s a promise.  It informs customers what they can expect when they purchase your products and services.  An effective brand should clearly differentiate you from your competition.

Branding is a simple concept, yet requires you to take a long, hard look at your business today and what you would like it to be in the future.  Brand starts with seeing the business through the eyes of your employees and customers.  This amalgam of positive and constructive feedback and emotions must be thoroughly analyzed and digested.

The best way to reach brand consensus is to answer the five following questions:

  1. What do you specialize in? What do you do best?
  2. Are you truly innovative, a leader in your industry, or simply a resourceful follower?
  3. What is the mission of your company? Its values?  What drives your team?
  4. Who is your target market? Who do your products and services attract?
  5. Do your products and services fall in the premium or economy pricing category?

Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to effectively communicate its key messages:

Design a great logo.  It’s the foundation of your brand and should become synonymous with your business.  Make sure your website, stationery, promotional materials, packaging, email signature, etc. features your logo.

Integrate.   Your branding philosophy will extend to every aspect of your business—website content, how your employees answer the phones, your advertising approach, all emails and correspondence, statements and invoices, essentially everything.  Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.  When employees start to talk the talk and walk the walk—especially those on the front lines—you can be confident that the branding messages are being effectively conveyed with both leads and customers.

 Develop a tagline.   Do you have a tagline for your company? What message does it convey?

Be sure it captures the essence of your brand.  It should be a memorable, meaningful and concise statement.  Caution:  Taglines perceived as “cutesy” or clever are often rejected by consumers.  Consumers are searching for high quality products with great value, great service and future support.

Be true to your brand. Customers will not come back—or refer you to someone else—if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.

Consistency.  Consistency is the key to differentiate your business.  If you are unable to maintain a consistent message, your attempts at establishing a brand will eventually fail.

Note: It’s a great temptation to go in directions that do not directly relate or enhance your brand.  Someone may suggest that you start running banner ads on various websites.  Stop yourself and ask – what does it mean for your business?  Does it align with your brand position or is it just something that might confuse your audience?  Every action you take must be viewed through the prism of your brand.

One final note. . .

123Print is in the process rebranding itself.  While it’s still essentially the same brand promise made over eight years ago when it was founded—“offer high quality printing at affordable prices with incredibly fast turnaround”—the time to refresh and extend the branding message was long overdue.  You’ll be seeing the new branding in the coming months!

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