Creating the Brand
Once you have worked out your core competencies, brand values, perceived quality and brand stretch, you can communicate them to your customers. Build the message into everything your customer or potential customer sees and hears before they have any direct contact with your business. Make sure your company literature reflects your brand values. If necessary, redesign your logo and company stationery so it provides an immediate visual link to your brand values. For example, if speed is a brand value, add an indication of movement into your company’s designs. Reconsider any advertising you may do. Is it in places that reflect your brand values? Does the copy reflect your brand values?
Make sure your staff understand the brand values and believe in them. Your staff’s attitude and behaviour will influence the success of your brand more than any promotional activity. Remember that if you make strong customer service a brand value, the brand is damaged if one customer feels that whoever they are talking to doesn’t care about service.
Review your systems and make sure every point of contact that a customer or potential customer has reflects your brand values. For example, if being friendly is one of your brand values, make sure anyone who answers the telephone or has direct contact with customers is friendly.
Managing the Brand
A brand will not work instantly — it will develop strength over time as long as your business consistently communicates and delivers your brand values to customers. Keep all your staff involved in your brand and your business. As your staff will be responsible for delivering the brand, they all need to feel a part of it and believe in it. Discuss your brand values regularly with your staff so they are clear about them. Encourage them to offer suggestions to improve your systems so the brand values can be more easily delivered. Monitor your customers’ response to the brand regularly and continually review how your brand values are communicated to them. Get regular feedback from friendly customers and find out if what your business is doing for them matches the expectation your brand creates. Ask dissatisfied customers or former customers too — you learn useful lessons about your brand through honest criticism. Regularly review your products, services and systems to make sure they efficiently back up your brand message. For example, if freshness is one of your brand values, are there ways you can deliver the product even more quickly? Once the brand is developed within your own business and your existing customers, you can use it to attract new customers. Use your core competencies to show the benefits of your business to potential customers. Show what your business can do for them, not just what you do. Make sure every communication with potential customers is also consistent with your brand values. Advertisements and sales literature to potential customers must be visually and emotionally consistent with what you provide to existing customers.
Extending the Brand
A successful brand can offer opportunities for a business to grow. However, if you are introducing new products or services, you must make sure they are consistent with your existing brand values. Stretching a brand too far reduces its strength and can damage it. If you are introducing new products or services, consider carefully if they fit with your core competencies and brand values. If they do, brand them in the same way as your existing products and services so they benefit from your existing branding. If they don’t, you should consider branding them separately. If your new products or services remain within your core competencies but not your brand values, you can consider a diffusion brand. A diffusion brand is a different message with its own identity tied to your existing brand. For example, an insurance company’s core competence is getting things put right after they go wrong. If it introduces a new service that repairs items rather than pays for their replacement, it should be a diffusion brand: the Fixit Service from XYZ Insurance. Remember that any problems with a diffusion brand will also damage your main brand, so treat the diffusion brand with similar care. If your new products or services fit neither your core competencies nor your brand values, you must brand them separately.