'Brand' new year

As this blog enters it's fifth year it's important to assess any progress made in 2016. I'm pleased to say that I'm still always learning and, after a great Christmas break, now feel fully recharged to build upon the foundations which we have laid.

In particular the work we have been doing to sure up our brand is vital in continuing to emphasise a consistent look and feel with our messaging. Our brand is much more than a logo or colour scheme. The brand is our organisation's personality and should shine through in everything we do.

Now that this is clearly defined for the business to follow the most important job is ensuring it meshes with who we really are and what we really do. This is a mammoth undertaking as some of the channels in which we represent our brand are in need of a refresh (i.e our website). this is mainly due to a natural evolution which occurs in all companies in both our offering and the way we are structured internally.  It is essential that this is communicated in a customer-centric way.

By definition, brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. There are many contributing elements to this, so engaging the entire business and mapping out how they overlap is essential. One large consideration is that of the Employee Value proposition (EVP). By working with our colleagues in HR we can then align the messaging around the unique set of benefits which an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities and experience they bring to our company.

With this is mind, we have been streamlining a process to undertake a full review on our offering. By doing this any new channels/publications we launch are clear from the outset on how they are structured, the tone of voice and the prominence of each business unit. Of course this is the most important part and hopefully reduces the internal wrangling over the importance of one department over another!

As we begin to deep dive into this work there are some key components for us to consider:
  1. Purpose - For most organisations this is to win work/acquire customers and to make money. However, whilst this is important for a brand, marketing must not solely focus on productivity. It should be about giving people what they want and need. We need to show how we can affect and challenge real world issues by adding value to the community or leading on industry-wide issues.
  2. Consistency - Everything we communicate, online and otherwise, should enhance and relate to our brand. People's first touchpoint with you could be one of many mediums (including face to face) and our messaging needs to align across the board. Our existing style guide is there to define this but needs to be more than a guide to the colours and language used as your brand values are played out simultaneously.
  3. Emotion - People have an innate desire to build relationships. This could be by opting to work for a company who they believe can progress then and morally fits with their outlook. By making their life easier or giving them piece of mind you can stand out from the crowd as people remember how you make them feel - not what you want them to hear.
  4. Flexibility - Our old tactics are definitely in need of a refresh. This is where we can use a variety of channels to engage differently with different audiences. For example, we may be targeting younger school leavers for our apprenticeship programmes. By highlighting services and attributes which have never been highlighted we can connect with new customers and remind our old ones why they love us.  
  5. Employee involvement - This is essential and should be mapped in at the beginning of the process. Whilst the marketing team may have clearly defined goals and views the only way to get a realistic view is to interview a wide variety of colleagues. This coupled with feedback from our customers, supply chain and joint venture partners. Of course, there's also the trusty old digital analytics to flesh this out yet further. We then have a much better understanding of how we are/should be perceived with evidence to educate colleagues on how to represent us.
  6. Competitor analysis - I am a firm believer in looking outside the industry for best practice - otherwise you are destined to only ever be a follower and not a leader. However, a great benchmark for any progress we make is by constantly monitoring our competition. By reviewing our social media monitoring platform and keeping up with their brand strategies we can further the work to make our offering unique.
I have no doubt that 2017 is going to be the year that sees me take on some of my biggest projects yet. If done right though then we can make a big splash in the markets in which we operate (and hopefully beyond). I'm up for the challenge and have just heard the bell ring for round one...
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