Sunday, July 22, 2012

5 Baby Steps to focused Corporate Branding

How much time and effort have you put out to improve your business? We have all attended conferences, seminars and networking events. Of all these efforts to fine tune ourselves how many have we actually implemented? Recently a fellow business person showed me a wonderfully large binder on marketing yourself. They spent $1,000.00 on this binder. It's all great information. The trouble is this person never actually implemented the strategies and processes contained in the binder. They read it, they went through all the tele-conferences associated with it, but it all ended with the last page and now sits collecting dust on a shelf.

How many of you reading this article and other articles on this blog actually use the great wisdom offered here? We're all guilty of it, we love the process of investigation - it makes us feel good that we are doing something about what we know is holding our companies back. But doing it is hard work and heck, don't we work hard enough already. Honestly I don't know if it is the fear of success or a lack of understanding. Focusing your brand doesn't have to be done over night, but can be done in baby steps. Here are a few suggestions to analyze your corporate brand in small bites, when you have the time:

1) Get a feel for who your brand is - as you walk past employees and suppliers ask them, "What do we do here?" This will give you a fix on where your corporate brand is right now. (Time to execute: 2 minutes)

2) Here is a gutsy one. Next time your talking to a customer, ask them, "If we no longer existed would you miss us?" Let's see what conversation this sparks. (Time to execute: 2 minutes)

3) Go on the web with a list of competitors that impact your company. Make another list of their positioning statements (slogans). Do any sound familiar? Do you see your own shared with others? If things sound very familiar, you're probably not leading as much as you think. (Time to execute: 15 minutes per competing site)

4) Stay on the web and go to your website. Have your mission statement next to you as well as your marketing materials. Take an overall look at everything as a group. Is all the imagery consistent? Are the corporate colors consistent across all pieces?
Do the messages reflect the mission statement? Are the any conflicting statements? This will give your corporate brand a sort of mini physical. Consistency is power in branding, inconsistency delivers a mixed message in the minds of your customers.
(Time to execute: 20 minutes)

5) We are still on the web. Take that list of competitors again and go to each of their sites and write down what the predominant 
colors are that they are using. When complete, write down your colors also. See where every company resides. One industrial client we did this for resulted in 74% of them using the color blue. We do this exercise with a spectrum chart. What this will show is where your color opportunities are if you would like to differentiate color as a strategy. I refer to it as a color opportunity.
(Time to execute: 5 minutes per site)

Now, if you do these 5 simple investigations you will have a great taste of the health of your corporate brand. You will know if your employees get it, if your favorite customers love you, if your positioning statement makes your corporate brand stand out, if your brand image is consistent across different media and if you are leading or following with your corporate colors.

Not bad for what is essentially a few hours work. The results may spur you on to discover more or they may convince you that maybe things aren't too bad after all. Don't do all 5 in the same day, maybe just one a week. 

The point is - just don't read about branding - use the advice you discover and try one or two things to help drive more business. Come back and share your results with us.

I can help.

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