How To Think Through Your Branding or Re-Branding (and Strategy, and Marketing Communications), P2
Much better to read Part 1 first: Come back here when you’re done...we’ll keep this post warm for you.
Branding or Rebranding requires thinking on lots of dimensions – freshness, clarity, innovative insights, some comparative thinking, and much more.
Don’t go in “knowing” the answers to such questions as who is your market, and what do they want....in fact, Part 1 of this series explains a bit of what you’ll miss if you have the Short-Attention-Span-Jitters, and pogo-stick your way through.
This Part 2 is really about the best approaches from my experience in the pivotal “HOW to think it through” part of strategic branding.
No-Slip Branding Tips & Sparks For Strategic Smarts
Branding or Re-Branding is NOT a fill-in-the-blank exercise. If you do that, you will not be “thinking,” you will merely be answering questions from a database in your brain that supposedly has the “right” answers. Nope, don’t do that.
You want to think. Run your noggin like a toboggan down fresh slopes.
Explore the process as if you don’t know the answers. Why? You might discover insights like WHY your customers really buy — beyond their “buying need” and their “pain points”...you might discover their buying motivations.
And HOW they really prefer to work with you, or receive your services. Such key components as “How” they receive your service has quite the range, but it could lead to things like a 2-hour service window that Comcast/Xfinity has been offering. Or providing a better “onboarding” process, which you use as a selling tool. Or providing online access to a consulting firm's project status updates (I developed this for an insurance consulting business, and it made a major impact in gaining new clients).
Slide downhill with that noggin toboggan...don’t be scared.
2) DON’T THINK.
At least don’t think like a business owner (or a marketer) of your business.
The best branding and marketing ideas come from acting. Be a thespian...with or without a ruffled shirt and heavy stage makeup. If you are playing the starring role of your potential buyers, you’re not accessing the same mental “channels” you usually follow — your own. You are beginning to understand the personas of your customers.
Don’t think of them as specimens under a petri dish…become them. See the world through their eyes. (Okay, not all of it, the way they towel off like a puppy after a shower can be weird, you can skip that part.)
Think smart...and don't overthink it.
3) DIVIDE AND THINK.
If you mumble-crumble-jumble everything up into a big ball of mush in your thinking, you won’t get the big picture… you’ll just have a big ball of mush.
Divide and Think.
That means that you should break down each point, and keep it separate from the next. So, for example, don’t merge the datapoint of “who are your customers ?”… with “what do whey want?”
So with this example, if you compartmentalize those questions, you may find that in the “who are you customers?” question you have some customer or influencer or referral sources you have missed. And sometimes those “secondary prospects” can become an important part of the engagement, marketing and sales process.
And the separate “what do they want?” question will likely go beyond a need they might describe, to something else, such as personal interests in their career or within their organization, that influence that buying decision. So breaking the points out helps you harness that noggin toboggan, addressing overt and covert (undiscovered) interests.
4) STOP THINKING ABOUT YOUR OPINION.
Your opinion may have real value. Or it may only have “real value” to you. Think of it as an opinion…not The Absolute Freaking Truth.
Stop trying to be "right."
When your company is developing strategy, or making choices about logo or tagline or colors, you want to be deeply involved, but you’ll want to focus on what you and your best guides think will work best for your prospects. Not random opinions from the first person who says something in a meeting, which sometimes goes unchallenged.
(Sorry to break it to you, but the notion that “Everyone’s Ideas Have Value,” just isn’t true on the face of it — some people who express "opinions" will barely understand your target market, or might insist that all their life they've known the world's best color is chartreuse.)
Yes, your opinion and taste and instinct may be good. Even brilliant. Just realize that “opinions are like bellybuttons…everyone has one.” And yours is just yours. Even if you own the company. At the end of the day, you do want to like the work...but remember the guidance of uber adman David Ogilvy, who said that when a creative or account person presents a new advertising concept to a client, it should make them sweat — if not, it’s going to be boring or ineffective.
More Rubber Sole Strategic Thinking For Your Brain
Especially to others! Especially to everyone on the team. I’ve lead my PowerBranding working sessions where the Executive Assistant was in the room to take notes. And when I could see an idea on her face, or someone was asserting a premise out of touch with reality…I’d ask her, "So what do you think?" And frequently that contribution was huge. Sometimes pivotal. And even when occasionally dismissed by others (after all, they knew better)… when an idea is killer, I've championed that cause. No matter the source. Ideas can come from anywhere. Don’t assert. Listen.
6) DON”T BE SCARED. JUST DO IT.
Be receptive to big ideas, even if you know nobody else in the field is doing this. Don’t be scared, that may be the best reason to take on a new focus. And you don’t have to worry about not being an innovator like Apple or Amazon in order to offer up a simple idea in service or rebranding that can be tremendously powerful.
7) DON’T ASS.U.ME ANYTHING.
Don’t make an ass out of you and me. Make no assumptions.
When everything is up for grabs, you can grab great ideas out of thin air.
Shhh! Biggest Secwet
Be vewy, vewy quiet...
8) THE BIGGEST SECRET: GOOD BRANDING REALLY GOES BEYOND __________ .
Most businesspeople think branding is a new company name. A new logo. Or tagline. Or website. And it can include all of those. But if “branding” is supposed to represent the essence of your company ...shouldn’t the branding match the offering? Seriously now!
Your products and services are sold in the marketplace…and the marketplace has choices. So why would a prospects choose your brand over another?
When you approach branding of your business, you’ll realize it even goes beyond the logo and website....to Customer Service...to your actual Offerings. It might be because you provide better service. Or they may choose your biggest competitor because those guys explain the process better. Or they may choose an upstart start-up because they “tell it straight” and sound more down to earth in their branding style. Or another company which offers an easier-to-use app, or have just-in-time delivery.
Often the adjustment you could make is easy. If you turn the corporate cheek and ignore market demands, sooner or later you’ll get kicked in the butt.
You only need to put your full focus on branding or rebranding for a short period of time. Cellphones and phasers on stun. Lock the doors if you have to. But that full focus is worth it…it's likely to change the future of your company.
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Joel Alpert of MarketPower is a branding and marketing consultant who has developed strategic thinking, business strategy, branding and targeted marketing, for Fortune 500... SMB... and one person consultancies, in just about every conceivable category of business. This perspective comes from PowerBranding, MarketPower’s signature process – the merged thinking of Robert Fritz, Inc. and MarketPower. Use the power, Luke....