1) Take stock and conduct a brand audit
The key to ensuring your brand becomes instantly recognisable lies in the consistent, accurate application of your brand identity.
Consistent use of your logo, fonts, colours and image style are all part of your identity system, and these need to be applied accurately to every document and product both internal and external.
Despite the purity of intent present at the launch of every new brand, inevitably, over time, consistency begins to slip. A brand audit can provide valuable insights into how you can improve the execution of your brand identity. It can also demonstrate how widely your brand is understood and valued by your organisation. A brand that is continually being compromised visually could be a sign of a brand that is not universally embraced inside your organisation.
Common documents and items to review, in addition to standard building signage, web presence, business cards and email signatures include:
· Internal manuals (e.g. employee induction manuals, OH&S manuals etc.)
· Event signage – especially sponsorship signage, where your logo may appear alongside other brands
· PowerPoint presentations
Conducting an audit prior to the end of the financial year means that you have the opportunity to allocate budget to address any particular problem areas. Placing all of the brand elements on a wall as a collective collage is an effective way to see how consistent or inconsistent you've become.
Download our brand audit checklist for a more in-depth list that can be used as a starting point to ensuring the consistent application of your brand identity.
2) Get to know your customers – because their needs may have changed
Research is often thought of as cumbersome and high-cost – something to be conducted when a brand has a problem that needs solving - but this is a very small part of the larger role research can and should play.
In a rapidly changing marketplace where new competitors and technologies are constantly coming to the fore, your customers themselves are also constantly evolving. The social media platforms they use to interact with brands may have changed, their personal priorities may have altered, and even their attitudes to value for money won’t necessarily be consistent with a year or two ago. It is vital to invest in keeping your knowledge of your customers up to date.
Smaller, more focussed ‘check-ins’ with your customers will ensure your brand continues to remain relevant and will act as a solid foundation upon which you can continue to strengthen your brand. You can find a previous blog here that details some cost effective ways you can deploy market research.
3) Confirm that your salesforce is aligned and united
When your sales team are clear on the unique offering of your business (and how this shows up for each customer segment) the sales process becomes smoother and delivers clarity for your prospects and customers.
If there is a lack of consistency in the understanding of your brand across the sales floor this can be an indicator that your brand is not universally understood and that your team is struggling to make the brand relevant for your different stakeholders and audiences.
One solution to this problem is to invest in the creation of tailored customer value propositions.
A value proposition defines the clear, distinctive, valuable place a brand aims to occupy in the minds of its target audience, relative to competing offers.
A strong value proposition is written specifically with the needs and wants of a defined target audience in mind. It provides solutions to key customer problems and succinctly articulates how the product / service addresses their needs.
Equipping your sales team with a customer value proposition for each target audience will empower them to outline the exact benefits of your product and service in a way that strengthens your brand, and allows them to deliver a better experience for your customers.
4) Invest in embedding your brand internally
A brand is brought to life from the inside out. While many businesses often celebrate a brand launch with their employees, everyone in an organisation needs to live and breathe the brand on an ongoing basis, if they are to deliver the brand experience daily to your customers.
An effective employee value proposition (EVP) is the cornerstone of any employee engagement strategy – it gives your team a ‘reason to believe’. It helps your employees understand who you are, where you are all going, and what role they play in the future of your organisation. A well-articulated EVP will help you both attract and then retain employees who are a good cultural match for your organisation.
An EVP can be further brought to life through the appointment of internal brand advocates – individuals who are armed with the necessary information to talk about the brand with real pride to their colleagues and clients.
An obvious example of a business that has mastered the ‘brand advocate’ is Google. Google has a global reputation for being a fun and rewarding place to work, and the stories of employee’s pogo-ing to meetings, enjoying unrivalled work life balance and generous paid parental leave only helps to build on its status as a global leader in innovation. Their brand advocacy and influence continues to grow, and no doubt their bottom-line has benefited greatly as a result.
Building a strong employee brand offers an incredible opportunity to extend your brand’s reach, reduce recruitment spend, attract the brightest and best, build relationships with clients, and drive business growth.
The new financial year provides the opportunity to build on the brand work already conducted by your organisations.
By ensuring brand plays an important role in any planning cycle, you can ensure ongoing brand health. A consistently applied identity; a deep understanding of your customers; an aligned sales force; and a workforce that is armed with the tools to be brand advocates for your business will drive tangible sales outcomes, improve recruitment and retention and drive overall business growth.