A brand is a company’s very identity. It’s the functional and aesthetic presence of the abstract concept that is your company. It’s importance cannot be overstated because it is also what customers think of when they think of your company. It is what a person says about you when they recommend you’re offering to a friend. It’s the sum total of what everyone thinks, feels, and says about your company.

A brand can be compared to a house in the sense that building it (or rebuilding it) is largely a sequential process and each part is dependent on the other. The frame cannot exist without the foundation, electrical cannot exist without the frame. There is a sequential process that must be respected, honored, and adhered to. Every step is dependent on the last. If at any step in the process you find yourself struggling to move forward you may have to take a step or two back. Like any good house it starts with a solid foundation.

Lay the Foundation:

Just like a solid foundation is essential for the integrity and longevity of the home, you absolutely must have well-defined answers to these questions.
Who are you?
Why is your offering special, important, or useful?
How are you different than other (similar) companies?
There are many was to It could be as simple as an under served geographical area. Or it could be product innovation, price, quality, service, etc.
Everything that comes next is dependent on the quality, thoughtfulness, and cohesiveness of the answers above.

Build the Structure:
Floor, Walls, Windows, Roof, etc.

Beyond the foundation there are structural questions that must be answered. They make up the core character and personality of your brand.
  • What is your mission?
  • What are your values?
  • What are the things that you promise to your customers never to compromise?
  • Who are your customers? Identifying and learning about your customers is an essential and never ending process.

Install the Electrical and Plumbing:

This is where things get moving, where we bring life to the structure. Now that you know your audience in their expectations you can start crafting the core of your identity.
Logo and colors – fun, playful, serious, corporate, handcrafted, useful, technical, innovative, steadfast, carefree, trustworthy, aspirational, etc.
Tagline – seven syllables or less. What do they get?  What can they expect every time?
Style Guides – create the look, feel, and voice of your identity, but leave room for growth, adaptation, and innovation.
Where is your customer in their knowledge of your offering? What does your customer need to know in order to move them from awareness, to trust, to action? Do they need: Entertainment? Education? Inspiration? All of the above?
Sometimes they just need to know you exist. Other times they need detailed information on one or more of the things previously outlined. Other times they need a friendly or trusted voice to make them laugh or remind them what’s important.
How do you give them necessary information in a way that keeps their attention? When all else fails, hire a talking lizard. 😉

Decorate the Interior:

(hint: it’s more than “making it pretty”)

You need furniture. It’s absolutely essential to a home being livable. However, there are many ways to decorate your house and styles change with the times. It doesn’t make furniture less important, but it can be confusing, frustrating, and very expensive.
Like a home, the decor is very dependent on your plumbing and electrical. It would be ill advised to put the couch on the bathtub. You can’t hang your TV on the wall with no power. Similarly in marketing and advertising  you’re offering informs how and where your customers spoken to. Where do they hang out? How did they talk to each other? Who and what do they trust? What makes them tick? These questions will tell you where not to go as much as helping you decide where you should go.

Assets/Media Strategy and Direction:

How do you showcase your offerings action photos, illustrations, processes, products, studio, environmental, models, mascot, videos? Print – online – social – broadcast – radio – environmental?

Coca-Cola advertises in theaters. It’s not an accident. They found a location and audience where their products makes sense and makes sales.
Like interior decorating, this is where budget plays the biggest role in decision-making. Do you want the $10,000 handmade couch or the $300 IKEA couch that you have to put together yourself? How important is it to your customers? Will anyone notice the difference? Usually the more established the industry, and the more competition, the harder you have to work and the more you have to spend to get their attention.
There are those exceptional viral campaigns that companies dream about, the great white whales of marketing. Other companies have the budget to reach 50 million people with one campaign or actually invented the better mouse trap that essentially sells itself. However, even those aren’t guaranteed. We’ve all heard of Super Bowl commercials that failed to deliver or a company coming out with an innovative new product only to have a bigger company with a larger marketing budget step in and out scale and outsell the innovator. Usually it’s strategic, consistent, and incremental work that builds your customer base.

Conclusion:

Each step is dependent on the previous. If you ignore steps, the message and, ultimately the relationship with the customer breaks down. Can you live in a house with no roof, no windows, no foundation? Maybe for a little while, but not long.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide to brand building. Just as you couldn’t build an entire house from the information above you cannot build a brand based on this outline. It’s just an introduction to the process; to the steps that must be taken and the work that must be done in order to build a successful brand.
Technology is facilitating an ever faster awareness and migration cycle of customers from house to house. It’s easier than ever to visit the neighbors. So it’s more important than ever to make sure yours is more well-designed, well-built and welcoming.

Coming Soon: 

How to Be the Best Host on the Block.

The customer relationship and experience. You’ve built the house and got them in the door, now what? Make it so welcoming, comfortable, and good that once they come in they never want to leave.

How Important is The Front Door?

Your website is the essential doorway to your brand.

Does the Artwork… work?

How social media can be the most expensive and time consuming thing that nobody understands.

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