The term “branding” means different things to different people. Many of our new clients come in thinking of branding strictly as the visual assets attached to their company—the most prominent symbol being their logo. When executed with discipline, a logo should reflect your company’s brand and properly reinforce its image. However; logos, corporate colors and graphic standards are only a small, outward-facing reflection of a company’s brand.
There is much more to the equation: What’s your corporate culture like? How is your company perceived in the marketplace? How are you different than your competitors? What do you do exceptionally well? What are your values? The answers to these questions help define your brand.
At JH&A, we use an exercise to help our clients identify and refine their true brand identity. Knowing perception must ultimately equal reality, we present clients with a continuum of five vehicles and ask “which vehicle most closely reflects your brand?” “Ferrari” is a common answer. “Innovative, fast, sleek, sexy, expensive and worth it…”
More often than not, we help re-think this self-perception. A brand isn’t something you one day hope to become. It’s about being comfortable in your space, knowing who you are, knowing your value and that your customers and prospects share your perception. Keeping with the vehicle analogy, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good, reliable, friendly F-150 pickup!
Branding begins with a prospects first exposure to your company. It may be an introduction to a salesperson, the way a call is answered, or the first office visit. It could be an advertisement, a visit to your web site, a press release or piece of collateral. Ultimately, your company brand should be reflected in everything from first contact through final invoicing and beyond. Each stage of a customer’s interaction should reinforce the same message, the same culture and values, the same brand.
The exponential increase in B2B marketer’s use of social media presents a branding dilemma. The tool’s ability to quickly introduce a brand to vast audiences is virtually unparalleled. However, the many new technologies involved make it more challenging to maintain brand integrity. It is essential to enlist social media experts to help ensure this aspect of your public face mirrors your web, print and public relations presence.
Be honest about your brand. Make sure your vision, culture, values and message are clearly and consistently reflected across everything whether in person, print or electronic. Not only will this approach help focus and unify your internal team—it will show prospects who you are and what you stand for. This, in turn, gives them the confidence they need to say yes!