Last week, I presented at the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) and AAM (Association for Accounting Marketing) Summit. The session, titled “Brand is not a Logo: How to Communicate Your True Brand,” focused on developing brand strategies, establishing a brand voice or brand statement, consistent messaging and brand measurement.
Through all of these steps in the branding process, there are three key components: awareness, messaging and needs.
Monitor your brand—especially online. Take time to listen to your audience as they’re going to tell you what they want and need. To stay ahead of your competition, you need to make change before they do. Listen to your online communities and take to heart what they are saying about your organization and what they need from you.
Be clear about what you want others to know about you. There are a lot of messages being sifted through each day—online and offline. How are you getting yours out there? Be deliberate in the messaging and brand you want to portray and stick to it. Make it short and sweet, but create value. What do you provide that others do not?
Prepare to meet the needs of your consumer. Set up a branding structure that is established in values and deliverables, but fluid enough to embrace change when it is presented. Trendwatching.com recently published its take on consumer trends for 2012 which includes things like a cash-less future, crowd-based problem solving and instant visual gratification. Use these trends to your advantage when planning events and determining the function of your own brand.
Implementation of your brand: The process
Your branding efforts may be affected by the size of your company, your budget or other resources–there are many factors that play into the success of a company’s brand. However, I’m here to tell you that everyone, no matter organizational size or structure, can make small strides in developing branding strategies and identities that fall within the new norm—what your consumers want.
First assess your current resources. If you are serious about moving ahead of the competition, you’re going to need dedicated staff or outside support to maintain and be a part of this new process. Once you have your branding team in place, use the following as your guide:
- Time (dedicate enough time to be a part of the conversation with your audience)
- Community involvement (ask questions and poll your community/audience)
- Ownership (give your staff and consumers a voice)
- Authentic voice (don’t automate human interaction)
- Appropriate channels (content calendars and social media plans help)
For more information on the new wave in business branding, check out Brand is not a logo: A shift in business branding.