Why using an effective brand management framework is essentialPosted on: September 7, 2021
When thinking about building a brand, many people believe it only encompasses creating a logo and defining what colours and fonts to use in company advertising.
In reality, in order for a business to succeed and build a loyal customer base, a brand strategy must be developed using an effective brand management framework. This is essential for businesses of all sizes, from startups to established companies, and is developed long before the visual identity of a business is designed and created.
If asked which brands immediately spring to mind, chances are these have rigorously created a brand strategy. The key is to build a level of brand awareness that sticks in people’s minds.
Creating a brand strategy with a clearly defined framework
When building a brand, a brand strategy framework provides a strong foundational stability in which it is built on. This framework involves many steps which are all of equal importance.
Step one: uncovering the meaning of the brand
In the first step of building a brand identity, certain questions need to be answered. Everyone in the business should know why the brand exists, where the company is going, or wants to go, what the company is committed to, and how it will behave.
While this last point may seem difficult to answer in a unique way as most businesses want to be professional, have clear communication with customers and their target audience, and be honest about their offering, there are some brands who take these boundaries but personalise them. Think of smoothie makers Innocent. Outwardly, their advertising is stark in comparison to other brands in that it is often funny, cheeky and tongue-in-cheek. While this won’t be the right approach for all brands, Innocent have made themselves stand out by adopting their own meaning of the term ‘professional’.
This example shows that the use of buzzwords in answering these questions can be relatively meaningless unless everyone is clear on exactly what is meant, as certain words will have many different interpretations.
Step two: know your audience
Truly understanding your target audience is essential when creating a brand. Whether for an entirely new business or a business that is launching a new product, knowing exactly who the target customer is will allow a business to ensure their branding and brand messages reach the right people and resonate in a way to make them convert.
Questions to ask when defining who the audience is can include; who are we trying to target?; what is their educational background?; how old are they?; what is their income range?; and what problems do we solve for them?
Building a buyer persona is very valuable to the brand strategy, as it will drive the emotional connection with people and improve the customer experience. Knowing who to target and what their demographics are is also important for the sales and marketing teams of a business, as they will have a clear idea of who they are and how to speak to them.
Step three: analyse your competitors
Your target audience already has their needs fulfilled by a competitor, so understanding a competitor and their branding will allow differentiation when creating your own brand.
By analysing competitors, you can see their brand positioning, what they do well, and what they may be missing. It will also allow a company to position themselves better, to stand out against the competition by filling in the gaps and taking a new angle to connect with the target audience, prove your value, and win customers.
Step four: create your value proposition
A company’s value proposition should clearly communicate why you are different to competitors and why a customer should care about your offering.
It should touch on the decisions your target customer makes, their problems, and the product or service you’re selling. This builds on your brand identity and will form the basis of customer-facing messages.
When the value proposition is in place, the brand personality can be formed. This is the understanding of how a customer may develop an emotional relationship with your brand, and whilst it can be influenced to a degree, how people react to your brand can’t be completely controlled. However, having a strong brand strategy in place can support this.
Step five: define the tone of voice
When you understand your audience and competitors, and have the messages you need to stand out, you can define the tone of voice for your brand.
The tone of voice should use language and a tone that feels familiar to the audience, and also builds on the brand personality as it is the voice in which all company messages are shared.
Having a clearly defined tone of voice will allow marketing managers to speak to the audience within your company’s marketing communications, such as the website, social media, and brochures, in a way that will be heard.
When defining the tone of voice, it may also be worthwhile to create brand advocates within your own organisation. Employees and senior stakeholders are powerful amplifiers of brand content, and employee shares tend to have a better reach. According to research by MSL Group, brand messages reach 561% further when shared by employees compared to the same messages shared via the official brand social media channels.
Encouraging employees to use their own LinkedIn profiles to share brand messages in the company-defined tone of voice can have a big impact.
Step six: create your visual identity
Once all previous steps are complete, that is the time to build the brand visually. This is when the logo, colour scheme and fonts are decided.
By having a deep understanding of the brand promise and brand messages, a company can begin translating them visually to ensure what you’re saying and how you look matches up.
When this is aligned, marketers within the business can create a marketing strategy to spread the brand experience, target customers and develop a strong foothold in that business’s sector. By following the methodology of previous steps initially and translating the findings into the look and feel of a company, you can avoid costly rebrands later down the road.
Become an effective brand manager
North Wales Management School has a 100% online MBA Marketing, ideal for professionals looking to expand their knowledge in marketing for career progression.
This degree will allow you to hone your decision making abilities, give you an in-depth insight into brand management frameworks and develop you into a successful brand strategist, and will teach you how to effectively use messaging and metrics to grow a business.
Study part-time and grow your global network as you learn alongside peers from all over the world.