Brand is more than a logo. It’s a personality. It’s value. It’s the bond to your members or consumers. Most importantly, it keeps you and your organization top of mind. Branding is expanding beyond a visual icon. How recognizable is your company’s brand? What services or products do you represent? Does your audience connect your organization to these services? Power branding creates and reinforces that recognition, instills member and consumer loyalty and generates awareness.
Not sure if you need to reinvent or reinvigorate your brand? Here are three key questions to ask:
- How does your current brand fit with your association’s marketing strategy? In other words, are you capturing the audience you want?
- Does your visual brand demonstrate value? Is it designed with a return on investment in mind? (ie. Are your design and website still mirroring that of Y2K?? If so, you have some catching up to do…)
- Do you constantly find yourself ‘selling’ your organization or explaining your association’s purpose? Enough said.
Establishing your brand
First, you need to figure out who you are. What does your current brand look like, sound like, feel like? Be honest; ask around. Next, think about what you want to be. You may have goals for your brand, for your company–are you truly reaching them? Break down your brand into small, bite-sized pieces. Meet with your customers, your staff, your key stakeholders and those who know you best. Topics of discussion should include:
- What are our core strengths?
- What value do we offer members, employees, consumers?
- What services do our customers, employees, members, etc. want or need the most? (what are their “pain points”?)
- What is the makeup of our target audiences? Location. Demographics. Needs. Habits.
- What is our ideal customer? Employee? Member? (This may be different than your current audience)
- What makes our business or organization unique?
- How do customers find us? How do we find them?
- What feelings do we want to invoke?
Creating your brand’s message
When creating your brand message, it’s very important to consider your current audience(s) and the perception of your organization. Gaining trust and integrity is a steep hill to climb. And, credibility loss is a slippery slope. So, use caution with creativity. Design a message that can capture new audiences while retaining those who have demonstrated their loyalty to you. Know what your customers, employees, and audience want, providing solutions that fit their need(s).
Think about your brand’s voice: What will resonate with your audience?
Promoting your brand: Commit to the long haul
How long, you ask? Indefinitely. Consistently.
Use channels that are available and recognizable to your audience such as a logo, brochures, business cards, a website, social media, mobile devices, events, e-mail and radio. Strategize and use these channels regularly. Great tools to help you stay focused and organize your messages include content calendars, e-newsletter schedules, and website production calendars. Promoting your brand is a team effort. These tools keep track of team assignments and audience reach. Planning your messages keeps your team accountable and consistent.
Your brand’s message should be apparent in everything you do–across every department in your department. Be consistent with your message. Live your brand.
Remember, brands are for them
Branding your company or organization has nothing to do with you. Really.
Your brand is for your audience, whether it’s your logo, your message or everything in between. You want to be easy to recognize, easy to reach and easy to figure out. Do you provide meaning to your audience? Do you help them solve a problem? Provide options and solutions for their needs. Use language they understand.
Forget industry jargon. Use phrases and terms that your audience understands. Understand your public’s frame of mind in order to create a bond with them. With consistency and consideration, you can become a part of their world.