Brand Management seems like a really big concept (and in some ways it is), but from a communication standpoint, a Company’s or Organization’s Brand is, really, it’s Identity (you could also throw in the word reputation as well). Maybe the best way to think about Brand Management is to think about it in terms of relationships. Your brand is affected by and affects others (what do you think about yourself, what do others think about you, and what do you think about what others think about you). Your brand/identity is based on relationship.
As I mentioned in the start of this blog series, we all have some experience being brand managers as we all have our own personal identities. We can all recognize the countless factors that make-up our identity (ie. passions and interests, natural talent and abilities, clothes, cultural upbringing, political and religious viewpoints, etc….). In my most recent post in this series, I talked about intentional communication, and how everything we do communicates something directly and/or indirectly.
In regards to Brand Management, the main goal is to think about all the things that can affect one’s brand. Here is a great info graphic by David Armano, showing the steps of moving a consumer toward loyalty (Brand Heaven) or disloyalty (Brand Hell):
Your goal as a business is to create loyalty, increase repeat customers, and overall, get people to like (if not LOVE) what you do and what you are all about. As a company or organization, your reputation is ultimately your responsibility. Unless you are a celebrity or have a service/product that is in high demand, you are like the rest of us that have to work to build brand reputation and value. And wouldn’t you know it, that takes actual time, effort, but more importantly, intentional strategy.
There is a great saying regarding relationships to the effect that it “takes a lifetime to build a friendship (relationship, marriage, trust) and seconds to destroy it.” Brand management is very similar. As an organization, you are doing whatever you can to build your audience and increase their loyalty to you. You will try and convince others that you have the best product or services, advertise to let people know you exist, you will use social media, deals, special events, networking, etc… But if you are not careful, you could ruin your reputation and have to start all over again (like Toyota)…
For a good chunk of time, Toyota rode a wave of success on the reputation they built as a reliable automobile company. Their cars were by no means the most attractive, must-have product (like the interest Apple products garner), but their reliability made Toyota a popular choice for repeat customers. As of recently though, Toyota has had to recall millions of vehicles amidst media reports of questionable vehicle safety. During this time, the reputation that Toyota worked so hard to create (safety and reliability) came crashing down, along with their sales. Since then, Toyota has had to spend millions to fix vehicle issues and millions in advertising campaigns to fix their damaged brand image (think about the countless commercials regarding Toyota and safety).
If you are a business or organization, here are some general things to think about regarding your brand:
Who are you?
What do you do?
Why does it matter?
Now here’s the short, short list of ways that you might answer the questions above:
» Product or Services Provided
» Company/Organization Mission or Core Values
» Written and Verbal Communication (Emails, phone calls, etc…)
» Customer Service Professionalism
» Environment Design (what your work/office/restaurant/store looks like)
» Printed flyers/brochures/business cards
» Etc. Etc. Etc….
Again, think of all the ways that you as a company/organization interact with your audience. As brand managers, our role is to help our clients think of most if not all of these pieces. Some of the things mentioned above take greater priority than others (different for everyone). Most of the time clients are too busy focused on their product or service that they don’t think about the other ways that affect their brand. We provide that outside perspective to help manage the small details and big picture that makes up a brand.
For my last post in this series I’ll be giving tangible example of some of the products and services that we provide. Happy Branding… 🙂