Corporate Brand Design: 3 Steps to a Wildly Successful and Profitable Brand
- Company brand design surfaces distinguishing characteristics that are noticed by your customers. It creates an identity and messaging that easily and clearly speaks to people and influences the way they think about your company.
- Effective design delivers a recognition that stands out from the crowd, attracts attention and staves off competition and commoditization. And most importantly, it creates alignment that directly drives revenue and profit growth.
- When brands fail to resonate with customers or achieve their financial goals, it's usually due to poor research. Customer research shifts your design from assumptions and aspirations to a data-driven and fact-based definition of exactly what most appeals to customers. The research is essential because if the brand definition is wrong, every decision and investment thereafter will disappoint.
Corporate Brand Design
Company brand design need not be a complex effort. The Johnny Grow 3-step corporate brand design process leverages a repeatable method that delivers improved business outcomes.
Start with Customer Research
Defining the most successful brand for your company starts with customer research.
Customers will tell you what they want from their preferred vendors and how they make purchase decisions. But you have to ask them. And trying to be everything to everybody is a losing proposition so you have to ask your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and target audiences.
When we perform research with clients our goal is to surface the buyer insights that maximize customer engagement, marketing offer conversions and sales win rates. To acquire these buyer insights there are five data points and questions that must be answered:
- Change event. What compels the buyer to make a change from the status quo?
- Purchase process. What is the buyers purchase process?
- Purchase obstacles. What prevents the buyer from completing a purchase? And why?
- Decision criteria. What are the buyers top decision-making criteria? And why?
- Top benefits. What benefits does the buyer expect from the new product or solution? Why?
We've been harvesting these buyer insights with clients for decades. Our experience has been that most clients believe they already know the answers to these questions. However, the research always reveals significant gaps. Brining visibility to these blind spots not only permits a much more accurate brand definition, but also gives management insights to improve the business strategy and the company's strengths, weaknesses and competitive advantages.
Once you can quantify how customers make purchase decisions, you not only better define a much more distinctive and successful identity but you have the data to make better marketing and sales investment decisions.
Categorizing the buyer insights and storing it your CRM system creates additional value by operationalizing the data with existing work processes. For example, in B2B industries, the data can be used to aid qualifications, perform lead scoring, improve sales win plans, calculate opportunity scores and improve sales forecasting to name only a few scenarios.
Without customer research and buyer insights lots of people in the company have lots of opinions of what buyers want and how the company should respond. Research creates consensus so company staff are responding accurately and consistently.
Customer research is the first step in applying data-driven, fact-based insights to create a precise brand that resonates, differentiates and delivers payback in the forms of reaching more prospects, converting more customers and growing revenues.
Define the Brand
Buyer insights deliver the first data set, but brand definitions become more strategic and sustainable if they align and reaffirm the company's competitive advantages and unique value proposition (UVP). Based on what you learned from the customer research, you may want to update these positioning statements. The point here is avoid defining your purpose and identity in a vacuum.
For a brand to work, it must be relevant, personalized, measurable and sustainable. When defining the brand you will find the first two requirements are pretty easy, but the later two will require some thoughtful analysis.
To aid your analysis, recognize the company identity must develop a tight fit with its target audiences. It must further represent something that matters to your customers.
For example, it must solve customer problems that matter. You should be able to make those problems measurable – both in pain of the status quo and payback from your company or solution. Fixing problems that vex customers creates both buyers and fans that will propel your identity.
There are several corporate brand strategies to consider. You may want to start with the Brand Pyramid template as this framework rolls up the essential elements in a way that can satisfy the minimum requirements.
Once you have defined your brand you need to solidify it into the company's messaging and collaterals.
Messaging succinctly describes your identify, and includes visual elements that aid distinction. These include your logo, tagline, standardized graphical elements or images, color palette and typography.
People process visual cues more quickly than words. When messaging and visual cues are combined, they reinforce subconscious recognition.
Grow the Brand
Roll out starts with internal education. If staff can't accurately and consistently cite the company's identity then customers will never recognize it.
For large companies a change management approach can be used. For small or midsize businesses, a simple communication plan can reinforce the new messaging. When I build comm plans I like to deliver a sequence of communications that shift the messaging from awareness to understanding to interest to engagement. That progression increases retention.
Then it's time to go public. That means updating your website, social channels, collaterals and all customer facing communications. Creating a brand guidelines document can be helpful to ensure consistency across mediums.
You can implement brand building campaigns to then increase amplification, reach and impact. Different types of campaigns will deliver different outcomes. For example, a brand awareness campaign will increase target market reach and the volume of leads or potential customers.
However, before investing in campaigns you should first define a brand measurement system with the most important metrics that directly correlate to revenue growth. Only then can you implement precision campaigns that drive those metrics.
Finally, you will also want to use brand impact reporting to measure your investments, payback and direct contribution to company revenues and profits.
The initial goal is to get customers to recognize and connect with the brand.
The follow-on goal is to shift customer affinity from products to the company.
For many customers company recognition actually starts with a product. Your program goal is to shift customer affinity from products to the company. A successful brand creates in an increase in sales not just for a specific product but for all products sold by the company.
The third goal is to promote advocates that evangelize your company in their online channels.