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The best brands are not only visually recognizable but also create an instant perception in the mind of potential customers. Some marketing experts, in fact, use the term brand image to refer to the mental and emotional response a brand elicits. For instance, Apple is considered one of the best recognized brands in the world.Its tangible brand, the logo and slogan, send a message about the company that make a deep impression on customers.
Building a Brand: First Steps
Instead of thinking about colors, designs, and logos, forget how you see your company. Rather, think about the perception you want to create for your customers. Start with the basics:
To get started, consider: What market do you serve? What do your customers want? What do your customers expect? How can you position yourself to meet those needs?
Gathering this information requires careful thought and planning. The best way to learn how others perceive your company is to ask your customers directly through focus groups, executive interviews, surveys, etc.
Building a Brand: Practical Steps
Your brand must always tie back to your strategy. How does the feedback from your customers relate to your company mission? Are you living your mission? Do you need to close any gaps? Your long term relationships with customers will drive the answers to these questions.
Once you determine your brand image, it's time to extend that brand to visuals and other tangible considerations. Here are six key factors:
Finally, remember that the best-intentioned branding strategy will fail if you don't deliver on the promises implied within your brand. If your USP guarantees a certain level of service, you must fulfill that pledge – or all your brand will convey is unreliability.
Maintain Your Brand
Branding is an ongoing effort. Your brand will not be established by a major marketing effort, a huge promotion, or an advertising blitz. Every customer interaction builds or tears down a brand.
Take a step back and consider your brand from a customer point of view. What are customers' first impressions when they walk into the store? How are they greeted? Do they receive the service you promise? If you position yourself as a low-cost provider, do you carry out that promise?
Look at all the physical ways your company engages a customer. Are logos, colors, and positioning statements consistent? Do your business cards, stationery, boxes, invoices and emails "feel" like they come from the same company? Every time a customer touches something from your company, you either reinforce your brand or lose the opportunity to enhance it.