Your brand is your story to your customer. It tells who you are and what benefits you bring to your customer. Your brand story also establishes a trust that the service you present will work as advertised. Well-crafted Branding builds trust between you and your customers.
With so much entwined in this big thing called Branding, how do you begin? Even more daunting, what about a re-branding?
What Is Branding?
Let’s start with some easy definitions. Branding is setting the sensory appeal of your product or service. It covers all 5 senses:
- Sight: What shapes or colors are you using to identify yourself?
- Sound: Is there a sound or musical tune that is associated?
- Smell: Does your product have a unique smell that is associated with it?
- Touch: Is there a pattern or texture that is known?
- Taste: Is there a particular ingredient combination that produces a specific taste?
In a nutshell, that’s your brand. It’s more than a logo and a tagline. At the core, it is the total package and presentation. On that note, Branding is not advertising and marketing either. Advertising and marketing are how you communicate this message to your network.
What Is Re-branding?
Re-branding is the process that a company or individual goes through after a time in the market. Their brand is already established, and now something needs to change. It may be a refresh, which is changing a few key pieces and updating. It may even be a more radical change that requires scrapping and rebuilding from the ground up. When rebranding it’s usually a good idea to tie back to the old branding. So that loyal customers are not confused by the changes made.
Now with some basic definitions out of the way, let’s look at some practical steps to get started.
How Do We Start?
Any branding project begins with answering three core questions:
- What do we do as a company?
- Who do we want to be known as?
- Why do we do what we do?
A great way to begin is to take the time with the key members of your team. Have them answer these questions and then discuss their answers. We would recommend a moderator during the discussion to help the topic stay on track. A third party can also help dig out key ideas that may surface.
This process is often enjoyable as you hear the hearts and core beliefs of your team. Yet, there can be cases where conflicts arise. The root of these conflicts can stall rebranding, delay a launch, or end in a wreck where nothing changes. So how do you avoid these pitfalls? Usually, it boils down to one root cause: communication, it comes down to the lack of communication.
Without clear communication within your team, a branding initiative cannot succeed. Issues of communication may have always existed. Issues are now spotlighted because of the intense nature of the branding process. So how do you fix something this big?
What to Do Next
You have gone through your branding retreat using the latest program or technique. In that window of time, you felt that the brand story was clear to everyone. Your company identity was solid and could be described by anyone. Yet the products, advertising, and PR that show up after the meeting look the same as always. What happened?
Second, you are in an all-day retreat with other team members. No one is communicating. It seems the room is an island on a TV show where warring factions have picked teams and are not budging. The day ends with no change and hurt feelings. What happened?
Third, you have completed the day of branding brainstorming. Everyone hears and understands. During recap, one or more groups say something like,”That’s good and neat, but we aren’t going to do that. We’re choosing to stick with what we’ve got. You guys go ahead, it’s a good idea.”
Overcoming Communication Issues
The truth is that there is no magic bullet fix for team communication. That does not mean that your team cannot communicate effectively or come to a consensus. The key to that is mutual understanding. Here’s what I mean. Everyone has different personalities and communication methods. Even with the diverse combination, they all share a core need to be heard and respected.
Considerations can be taken to ensure a smooth and effective meeting. Even with different personalities and communication styles. The most common cause of branding or rebranding is communication issues.
First, have a good facilitator. They should be trained in a school of personality profiling and personal interaction. That way they can guide from the beginning.
Second, use a good personality profile. Make sure people know that they are not being labeled. Instead, provide an open understanding of how someone approaches a problem.
Finally, be open and honest from the beginning. These meetings involve deep feelings, memories, and ideas. Many of these thoughts are probably held tightly by others in the room. Be honest and let people know that there may be some discomfort through this process. Still, make sure to focus on the goal. Remind people that at the end of the day their ideas will be heard and the goal will be reached..
Remember, the most common cause of a failed branding project is communication issues. Taking steps beforehand addresses these issues from the start.
Effective Communication is not More Volume
It makes me laugh when someone tries to use volume to overcome a communication issue. It begins when someone thinks they are communicating clearly, but the other person does not understand.
The issue may be a lack of focus, a language barrier, or an unclear understanding of the terminology. It could even be a lack of background information about the situation. Regardless, the time spent meeting has been wasted. The cost feels even greater when this happens in a meeting scheduled for longer than 5 minutes. So how can you help avoid that feeling of “what a waste of time?” Let’s take a look at communication. Let’s see how it not only affects the meeting, but also helps communicate the goals and format.
Clear communication means that the idea in your mind is clearly communicated. A good analogy for this is the fax machine.
A fax machine is basically 3 components:
- A sending unit that scans the document
- A communication line
- A receiver that prints the scanned document
If any of the 3 components fails to function properly, the message does not send.
The Sending Unit Is Critical
Let’s start at the sending unit. In our real-life application, this would be you. When you begin to communicate, you must make sure that all the information is there and available. Make sure that anything needed as it relates to context and background is accessible. Depending on your audience, the receiver, they may already have everything they need. This can be made sure of by asking questions or sending out a preparation packet beforehand. This packet contains all the pieces and each piece is labeled. Once the message is prepared, you’re ready to send.
Additionally, make sure you can explain the topic or idea. Don’t become frustrated if your audience is unable to grasp what you feel is a simple or obvious concept. Remain calm. Becoming upset won’t help the situation. Ask questions to uncover the point they are stuck on and dig in. The answer could be be recognizing that a more complete picture may overcome the obstacle. All in all, its ok. Now let’s look at the communication line.
The Communication Method is Vital
In a fax machine, the communication is usually done over a telephone line. In a meeting, your communication line could be a PowerPoint, screen share, in-person meeting. It could be a conference call, or some similar form of communication. Each communication method has some unique challenges and benefits.
They all share one common weakness, effectiveness. The amount of effort you put into your presentation doesn’t matter, if the communication method is wrong. Miscommunicating the message means that it will not get through. Be sure you understand your audience and how they communicate. Some people prefer visuals, some audio, some written, and that’s only the beginning. Trust me, it’s worth the up-front work.
The Problem Is Not the Receiver
Finally, let’s look at the receiver. The receiver is the person, or group of people, that you are communicating your idea to. This is your ultimate goal. You want to share your approach or idea, and hopefully, have them agree with you. Even if they don’t agree, you want them to participate in a group decision. Your work on preparation and communication methods have led you to this point. So what happens now? If you have put the time and effort in to clearly communicate then you have done your job.
The other person, or persons, may not agree with you, but that’s ok. People are people and have their own ideas and opinions. Be ready to continue the discussion in a calm and productive manner. Don’t be afraid of scheduling another meeting at a later date and preparing more facts. The point is, you did your job.
Tying The Brand Story Together
As you can see, creating a brand story is hard. My hope is that as you read through, you were inspired. I hope you now have some new ideas to unify your team and approach your branding project with gusto. Make sure to stop and take note of all the pieces and preparation that goes into internal communication. Don’t forget to put as much, if not more preparation into your external communication. Tell great stories about who you are and what makes you different. Inspire people, don’t just convince them to buy your product. Be ready to help.
What Do You Think?
So what do you think, do you have a brand story to tell? If you have feedback on anything we said, or if you want to share some of your stories, please let us know!