We get asked this question a lot. The short answer is branding is giving a company, product, service or experience a unique personality that resonates with the target audience. But it’s a lot more complex than that. A brand is a feeling. It’s not tangible – you can’t hold it. Yet it is alive. A brand holds a distinct meaning in the heart of each and every person. And that meaning is different for everyone. It’s formed by each individual’s past experiences, mood, mindset, upbringing, beliefs – everything. Branding is how we portray the company, product, service or experience. Successful branding cuts through all the clutter and noise to form a common connection with a person.
HOW IS BRANDING CREATED?
Creating a logo, a product or an identity package is not creating a brand. Sure, those are all elements of a brand, but they are just that – branding elements. A brand is created through every touchpoint. How you answer the phone. The quality of the product or service you provide. Even your company’s color palette. It’s forged through consistency in message, look and feel. It must generate momentum with every experience. And it must evolve with the marketplace. Creating a brand is as much of a science as it is an art. But make no mistake, if you don’t create your brand, someone else will. And then it will be too late.
Why Is Branding Important?
People make decisions with either their heart or their head. Branding addresses both. We have a mantra at Test Pilot, “Affect the heart to move the mind.” If we can help your brand resonate in the hearts of your customers, they will make the decision to buy your product or service. Yet so many companies out there do not put any stock in branding. And a vast majority of those companies get lost in a sea of apathetic sameness. But those companies who invest in their brands turn ordinary customers into brand advocates. Think about it, when’s the last time you heard of someone standing in line for hours to buy the latest LG smartphone? Yet it happens every time a new iPhone model is introduced. Strong brands move people to action.
What Is Test Pilot’s Approach To Branding?
This is another question our advertising agency gets asked quite often. While there is no “formula”, there are certainly some best practices to branding we take into consideration. First, there is all the Discovery that must be done before anything. From conducting a deep-dive competitive analysis of the competition that weighs a ton of both qualitative and quantitative criteria, to creating detailed audience personas, we take the time to fully understand the industry, competition, target audience and marketplace conditions.
BRAND SYNERGY MAPPING
Once Discovery is finished and we have a strong understanding of the world in which our client’s brand will compete, we lead the key client stakeholders through an exercise called Brand Synergy Mapping. This session dissects every aspect of the client’s business – from the company, products and services offered, to their business and marketing goals, operations, and employee attitudes.
Attributes and Benefits
Initially, we work to identify the primary attributes and the corresponding benefits of the company, product or service. These attributes and benefits go well beyond the predictable like “trustworthy” or “quality”. Those are ambiguous and are not very ownable. The idea here is to uncover attributes that are unique to the company, product or service. Then we identify the benefit gained through each attribute. Again, it goes far beyond “greater ROI” or “enhanced simplicity”. These benefits must be real and vital to the target audience.
After the attributes and benefits are identified, we begin crafting the Brand Promise. This is a promise to themselves and their customers of the one thing the brand will always deliver, no matter what. While this may sound easy enough, we’ve found it oftentimes triggers an “aha moment” for many of our clients. The key element to crafting the Brand Promise is authenticity – if it’s not authentic to the company, product or service it is being created for, the brand will fail.
The final step to Brand Synergy Mapping is creating the Brand Platform. This is the foundation upon which the brand will be built – and it’s the goal of the entire session. It informs every communication piece. Every marketing effort. It ensures consistency and keeps the brand focused on where it should be. It is the catalyst for internal building blocks like the Mission Statement, Value Proposition and Brand Guidelines. And it dictates the direction of all external communication, marketing and advertising efforts.
Putting It All Together
Only after Discovery and Brand Synergy Mapping are completed do we begin working on creating the brand. A brand is something that will live and grow for five years. Ten years. Forever. Many advertising agencies blindly jump into brand creation without performing their due diligence first. This is not only unwise, it’s just bad business. And it’s a big reason why so many companies fail. Your brand is your power. It’s what moves your customers, your employees and your bottom line.