Marketing 103: Branding

(Prerequisite: Marketing 102: Co-marketing and Cross-marketing)

“Branding” is providing a consistent message to your customers. It’s rooted in the combination of your core values and your strategic plan for your company (think of it as your “business persona”). Every time you have an interaction with your (prospective) customers you want to reinforce your brand (by phone, in person, via email, on website, or print). You’re sending a consistent message of why someone would choose to do business with you.

Here are key points I focus on when I create (or review) marketing materials. Each of the points has implications in crafting the branding message.

  1. What are your core values? Your core values identify you to the world, and include: collaboration, cost-sensitivity, diversity, education, efficiency, excellence, flexibility, fun, holistic, innovative, preventive, service, social responsibility, sustainability, and teamwork). There are no right or wrong values – but they must “fit” your business.
  2. What makes you different? Knowing your competition is important to make sure you don’t fall into a “me-too” message. Your materials need to make you stand out.
  3. What’s your plan for 2+ years? Are you planning to focus on one aspect of your business? Planning to change direction or grow? Your marketing materials can help you make the transition smoothly.
  4. Who will be getting this document? Different audiences have different informational needs. The benefit to your services would be different for a potential customer than an investor.
  5. How will the document be delivered? If you’re mailing the material, besides optimizing its size / weight (to save mailing costs), you’ll want to design it so it will be read (and not deemed “junk mail”). If you’re emailing it, you’ll want to likewise ensure it’s not labelled “spam” as well as making it easy for people to read it (plain text, a downloadable PDF, a link to a web page, etc.).
  6. What’s the purpose of the document? Besides Marketing 101 information, you need a “call to action” – a reason for someone to contact you NOW. How you convey your benefits depends on the main purpose of the document: educating (about a problem they didn’t know about), convincing (why you’re the best), enumerating (all the different things you can do), or swaying (from a preconceived notion). Often people try to make one marketing piece “do it all” (very tempting, especially when you’re spending a lot of money on a project).
  7. What other materials do you provide? Your materials should have a consistent look (except during a business makeover) and tone (that reflect your core values).
  8. What are the demographics of your customers? Older people have an easier time reading bigger fonts. Younger people might prefer something “hip”. Men and women process text differently. Different cultures have certain color / graphic taboos.
  9. Will you be excerpting any of this material for use in another format? If so, you’ll want to ensure that your graphics and fonts can work across the formats (for example, you want high-quality graphics for print, but lower-quality graphics for quick-loading web pages).
  10. Have you “tested” the material (or previous materials)? Remember you’re trying to create a dialogue with your customers – you need to listen to what people think to make sure what you’re saying is what they are hearing. You want to attract the right customers.
  11. How will you measure the effectiveness? You need to determine your “ROI” (return on investment).
  12. How often will the same people be receiving it? Will you be rotating a message / offer or sending the same message?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.