My last blog post looked at what makes a great brand, ways you can get a handle on your current brand and identify what’s important to your customers and other stakeholders such as potential employees and partners.

This is an important first step. But having done this, how can you go on to strengthen your brand profile?


Behave yourself

Firstly, I believe it’s important that organisations recognise that their brand is determined by how they behave as well as how they present themselves – by what they do as much as what they say.

I’m sure this sounds obvious. But in my experience, senior managers and company owners sometimes seem to feel they can be the architects of their brands simply by sitting in a room with their marketing team, debating what to say about themselves in order to ‘choose’ how they’re perceived.

Instead, you need to look at the fundamentals of your business and what your research tells you about how these influence your stakeholders’ views – particularly their propensity to buy and recommend you.

Just how good are your products or services? Are there things you need to fix or do differently?

Are you easy and enjoyable to deal with? How well do you support your customers after a sale?

Do your employees feel you care about their well-being?

Painting a marketing gloss over broken business processes will get you nowhere. To make a truly meaningful impact, you need to enhance your strengths and address any weaknesses that impact your brand at an operational level.


Inspiring message

With this in hand – or if everything’s running smoothly on the business front – you can turn your attention to your marketing and communications. You have a great business – how can you get more people to buy into it?

A good understanding of what your customers and stakeholders value most about you will provide clear pointers to the brand elements you need to promote through your marketing. In particular, why would they buy from you (or get a job with you etc) rather than your competitors? You might find this is product quality, speed of response, trustworthiness or a personalised service, for example.

Be ruthless and prioritise the top one or two factors. Create a marketing message that’s sharply focused on these to attract and retain customers and stand out from the crowd.

This message needs to be inspiring and expressed in simple, human terms that will strike a chord with your market.

Hone it into a pithy ‘elevator pitch’. Expand on it with evidence and examples.

Test it on real people in your target audience (not your colleagues who already have preconceived ideas).

Then make sure it flows consistently throughout everything you say and do.


External view

In tackling such an exercise, it’s invaluable to get a professional external view. I find it’s impossible for senior managers and business owners, however smart, to be objective enough because they’re so immersed in their own organisations.

It’s because we’re often approached to provide this kind of outside support that we recently developed a special package of services called Kick Start.

This takes clients through the kind of process I’ve described, helping them to:

  • assess their current brand status
  • analyse the needs and aspirations of their customers and stakeholders
  • identify business strengths and weaknesses to be addressed
  • develop an inspiring marketing message
  • create a simple marketing strategy to get the message out

The good news is that this kind of planning process is no dry, dusty exercise. It’s stimulating and revealing for all involved.

It also doesn’t have to be a lengthy procedure. Depending on the level of detail you need and the amount of customer intelligence you already have, it can be completed in as few as two to three weeks.


Road to irresistibility

Having become crystal clear about your customer profile, brand message and approach, you can go ahead and execute your marketing programme with much more energy and conviction.

Companies too often dive into ‘doing some marketing’ without this kind of analysis and just hope for the best. In the long-run, this tends to be expensive and unproductive.

But you can be much more confident in your marketing efforts if you’ve put in the analysis and creativity up-front.

Then you’ll hopefuly be on the right road to building a great brand – and becoming irresistible to your customers.


What are your thoughts on the best way to establish a powerful brand? Do you agree it’s about a company’s actions as well as their words?