If you are creating a new company, product or service, be thoughtful in how you develop your brand identity. It may sound funny, but we see it all the time; someone in the company thought an icon they found online was cool and it became the logo. It’s meaningless to their customers and prospects, and most of the time, even to them! This haphazard approach extends to other brand elements such as photography and typefaces. The result is a disjointed identity that can hurt the perception of a company, product or service far more than it helps.
Build your brand identity for your customers and the value you can deliver to them. This is your face to the market. How do you want them to see you? Here’s a three step process to help you evaluate and decide:
Step 1: Does Your Current Brand Image Align with your Value and Differentiation?
Warning: this isn’t easy. Look at your website, collateral, presentations, mailers, email and anything else you are putting in front of customers and prospects. Do these pieces project you well to your customers and prospects? Do they showcase you in the best possible light? Are your competitive differentiators clear? What is the tone of the copy, and does it align with your corporate culture and values? If you already have a logo in place, evaluate at it…objectively and thoughtfully. Is it meaningful? Does it make sense to your target market? Is it overly complicated or confusing? Is it consistent and easy to use? Do you have brand use guidelines in place? If not, you need to to ensure consistent and correct usage.
Step 2: What Do Your Customers Think of Your Brand?
A voice of the customer initiative can be one of the most enlightening activities you’ll do. In fact, we’ve had clients completely retool their identity and brand messaging after getting this insight. You can handle a project like this internally with surveys and you will get some perspective. The best effort, however, is done by phone and handled by an outside resource. In this case, customers can speak candidly with an objective third-party and the interviewer collects valuable qualitative data—including nuances and background that can only be captured in a conversation. Our deliverable on a voice of the customer initiative is a full report or presentation with the findings and strategic recommendations for the business going forward. Make sure any resource you use delivers the same.
Step 3: What is Your Competitive Position?
Do you know who is also in front of your prospects and trying to win your customers? Make it a point to know your competitors and then evaluate their brand. How do they position themselves? What do you like about their brand? Where can you do better? Where do you fit in relationship to your competitors? The idea here is to give you perspective and most importantly, clarify your message and value proposition to your markets. Don’t get overly hung up on your competitors. Understand where your differentiation is, use what you learn and focus on doing what you do best.