By ALEX OGUNDADEGBE
The process of corporate branding can be brought down to a simple level. Complications can be removed so that absolutely anyone can understand its basics and possibly engage in it without spending a fortune. Perhaps when you do make that fortune, you can employ someone to sustain the process at a higher level.
Six major steps are to be considered. Many times we go through them without coordination and unconsciously.
What are you branding?
It’s a logical need to know exactly what we intend to brand. Because the first rule of branding is recognizability. Knowing what impression we want to make about a product, service or indeed a person, starts with us. We have to have an image of what we want to push forward in our minds! A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors. Once we recognize it, then we can get the buying public to do the same, if we are able to pass it all through a process. So knowing what you’re pushing out there is only the beginning. Is it one product, service or person? Does it have several layers involved that you may wish to phase or sequence? Suppose I’m running for political office and I want to gain a gradual acceptance among a group of people. One approach could be to create circumstances that my qualities could be brought to the fore. So, once I have identified what I wish to put out, I need to break it down into consumable bits and pieces. Perhaps I want to appear as a credible, caring and empathetic person. May be I want as many people as possible to like me. (That of course is the mindset of most politicians). Certain actions and steps have to be taken to put all of that out to the “buying public”. Let’s face it, ultimately, what you are doing is selling a product.
Knowing the market in which you intend to operate and the competing brands will help immensely.
If what I am branding is a product or service, it’s important, and this is stage two, that I research it and try to discover everything that I need to know about it. For instance, suppose I am branding computers. I need to know the key aspects of computer components, what they can be used for and the varieties of the product that are in the market. I am writing this piece on a Dell, but a Dell is not the only computer you have in the market. There are others like Toshiba, HP and Apple. It’s good to have a fair idea about computers generally, so that I can look at the one I’m branding and try to determine how to go about the function of branding. What I have just described is the process of research. Knowing the market in which you intend to operate and the competing brands will help immensely.
Positioning is the third stage. What you are doing is selecting what is unique about your product and pushing it forward so as to appeal to the audience you have chosen to relate to. Do you choose the customer or does the customer choose you? Well in modern day marketing of which branding is a subset, it’s a bit of both. We choose the customers we wish to relate to and they choose our products too! The uniqueness of your product gives birth to what we call the unique selling proposition (USP). Some people refer to it as the Unique Selling Point. What is important is you being able to identify that uniqueness so you can make it a major point of contact for those who would buy your product. The group of people we have chosen we refer to as our demographic. Knowing their desires, association, tastes and trends that engulf their very habits helps a lot. So sometimes you might want to go outside of your narrow zone and take a look at some of these.
But you need to understand that the best brands in the world will not get patronized unless people know about them.
What does it stand for?
Every product ought to have something altruistic about it. What that means is what does it do for those who associate with it? Does it make them stronger, wiser or healthier? Or does it simply convey some level of prestige or class? Does it enhance their expertise in any way? This fourth stage of defining your brand is very important. Brand managers work to the level of making sure that the association of the idea they have resonates deep into the psyche of the prospective buyers. Automobiles are a great example. Two German cars: Mercedez Benz and Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) have sought to portray the strength and durability of the cars they manufacture by arranging crash tests and making such tests public. So if Mercedez and BMW brands stand for durability and strength, what does your brand stand for? Now you get the drift. You don’t want you product to be just one of many in the market. You need it to stand out exceptionally and attract buyers based on that perception.
Develop the brand ID, name, and logo!
In the fifth stage of the development process, colours, fonts, texture and designs all come into play. See a graphic designer if you are crafting a logo. Do something that is appealing to the eyes. If you really want to attract attention to your product, do the strange and extraordinary. Certain colours like red and pink stand out in the crowd. If it’s a personality you are promoting, take a hundred photographs of different postures and with different clothing and see which ones catch the eye of the public most by doing a review and getting other peoples’ opinions. These pictures, logos and IDs will give the brand identity. Remember what we said at the beginning? Recognizability is one of the hallmarks of the outstanding brand. Does yours stand out in the crowd? Make it stand out!
Now once you have taken the pain to go through all these stages, the next thing to do is to launch your brand. You can build an event around your brand launch and leverage the attendance to get the word out. These days, that event could be virtual as well as physical, depending on what suits your purpose and the audience you wish to appeal to. But you need to understand that the best brands in the world will not get patronized unless people know about them. So forge ahead with this six step plan and keep building on your brand. That’s the way to the top.
*Ogundadegbe is a renowned management consultant. He trains managers and executives in the arts of Customer Service, Human Resources Management and Management strategy (email@example.com).