Updated: Sep 21, 2020
/ˈbrandiNG/ noun 1. the action of marking with a branding iron. "regulations concerning the branding, movement, and sale of cattle" 2. the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design. "the process of branding should be considered in global terms"
That last installment was several months back. So sorry for the delay but we are back and ready to rock!
Branding is as much about a psychographic ( Psychographic segmentation is a method used to group prospective, current or previous customers by their shared personality traits, beliefs, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles and other factors that count as the psychological aspect of your target audience) profile as anything but that profile not only applies to your external clients and your staff but to your competition as well. Demographics can help us determine that a 35 yr old female with a college education is likely to use our service but psychographics help us understand why. If we can determine the "why" then we have a better chance of finding a new client/customer, finding the right staff or dustng the competition. Having at least a basic understanding of why can help you perfect your marketing strategy and tailor your approach.
So, let's start with your competitors.
Who Is Your Competition?
Competitive analysis can be a helpful first step towards developing any marketing strategy. Brand identity is no exception. The branding lessons you can glean from your competitors can vary significantly according to your industry and the level of competition you're facing.
More to the point, how are your competitors perceived? Are they friendly? Are they aggressive? Do they come across like wily veterans or smart young upstarts?
Do their colors and fonts convey this?
How does your brand compare? Are there things that you uniquely do better than them? In what ways are they better than you?
The point is not to clone their way of doing business but to let their successes and failures somewhat inform what you do.
And Now The Clients. How Do You Make Your Clients Feel?
Undoubtedly you know who you are targeting but what makes them tick?
Not sure how to find out? Here's how: When your most satisfied new customers communicate with your sales or account management team, what do they have to say? Listening to the interactions of new, satisfied customers can reveal a wealth of information about how you make your customers feel. Do they express:
Relief? Inspiration? New-found energy?
The most frequent positive emotion your customers associate with your company is critical information for building a brand identity. Use this emotion to select visual identity aspects, including the optimal colors and fonts. Of course, using their positive reviews, commentary and the like will go a long way towards cementing a great brand identity! Example: I once had a client refer to herself as a Padawan Learner and to myself as a Google Adwords Jedi Master. That told me that as I helped her expand her business that she was also grateful to learn along the way. Now as I find more clients I emphasize that I also teach and explain why we approach their particular strategy in a certain way. That rocked! You think I am still not running with that one?!!?!?
How are You Different?
What does your brand offer that your competitors can't? Perhaps more importantly, how can you communicate this in your brand identity? Most businesses that operate in the same vertical share more than a few common points with their competitors but there are often key points where they do not.
What are yours? Is it level of service? Is it the quality of the product? Is it just a small niche that no one else serves? Your winning personality?
Decide and Act.
There are so many pieces to the branding puzzle. Many offer a very interesting tact when it comes to marketing.....and many are spot on. I have found that the deeper you dig into your competitors persona, your clients profile and your own understanding (actual and ideal) of your company you can unlock so many different paths to appropriate targeting.
Asking a lot of tough questions can lead to more aggressive discovery and that lends itself to crafting the right strategy for yourself or for a client. Sure, it's time consuming and a bit more than tedious but it translates to less questions on the back end and more satisfaction in the long haul.
CEO of The NorthEnd Group, LLC, Happy Husband and Father, 20 Year Vet of Marketing, Born and raised in Detroit on The North End, U of Michigan Grad, Proud Michigander and sad, sad, sad Detroit Lions fan.