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January 24th, 2017

Business Performance & Brand. A Power Couple.

YOUR BRAND IS ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE AND VALUABLE ASSETS YOUR COMPANY OWNS.

Let that sink in. Don’t you agree that, as such, your brand should have a defined strategy to help your business fight and win in your competitive arena every day, week, and month of the year?

It’s not just the name on your building or the banner on your web site. Not just a logo on your packaging or the name used to answer the phone. Your brand is the direct association with specific, “designed” experiences, created to build brand value in the mind of those receiving the experience. It is a vital business asset contributing to the achievement of your corporate goals. If it isn’t; it should be.

If your brand is not performing these services every day, at every point of contact, with both your internal and external audiences, then you are seriously underutilizing one of your most valuable business assets. One with the potential to drive revenue, increase margins, and boost profits and customer loyalty.

So how exactly do you harness the full potential of your brand? Implement these 4 strategies.

1. Fully define your brand so everyone understands it intimately.

Everyone in your organization should have a clear understanding of your brand and why it exists. Not just its history, but its current purpose and mission. Do you have your brand’s purpose defined, documented, and publicly displayed?

Make sure these questions are answered: Why is your brand different from your competitors? What are the three or four foundational pillars that combine to make your brand unique, meaningful, relevant, and important to your customers and end users? What position of value do you want to hold in the minds of your varied audiences? How is that communicated—tone, voice, and manner? What is the personality of your brand?

Your brand, when defined and integrated into every aspect of your business, should begin to influence the behavior of employees. Ultimately, it will lead to the development of a brand culture that spreads its influence through every touchpoint with your external audiences as well.

2. Investigate every aspect of your business to see where your brand can be used to build value.

If one of your brand pillars is Precision Engineering, then imagine for a moment how that relates to customer service after the sale. How does that particular attribute translate into the way customers are treated when they have a complaint about one of your products? What should the tone and voice of your customer service response be based on that pillar?

Also imagine how your sales people should present themselves and your products. The precision engineering pillar might lead one to expect a very well structured and logical presentation, with data as proof to all claims. If your brand stands on this pillar, everything about it should be buttoned up, completely thought through, with nothing left to chance. It should be accurate, on time, and completely reliable—from customer service to accounting to sales and marketing to product development and engineering. And every employee should be trained to deliver that experience to every customer and to their colleagues.

The feel and expression of precision should also be in every piece of communication—from traditional collateral to trade show presence to digital platforms and social media.

3. Learn where each of your audiences would prioritize your individual brand pillars and define their value proposition.

Most companies have more than one type of audience that comes in contact with their brand. You may have end users, retail partners, distributors, and dealers. You may also have bankers and lawyers and vendors, or even corporate customers. And, of course, employees, directors, and shareholders.

For illustration purposes, let’s expand your brand pillars to: Precision Engineering, User-Driven Innovation, Service Excellence, and Design For Seniors At Home. Perhaps you design and manufacture furniture or small appliances or kitchen tools. You may design orthopedic soft goods—braces and supports.

Now look at those four brand pillars and imagine your audiences. Each one of them might prioritize one pillar over another in terms of its importance and value to them. The implication of this is that while your brand must remain sacred, you have to communicate and interact with each audience in a way that offers them value, and at the same time, builds value in your brand. Your end users—Seniors—may place the highest value in Design For Seniors At Home and User-Driven Innovation, while your dealer channel may weigh Service Excellence and Precision Engineering as more important to them. But you want each to love your brand, so within its construct, you need to define your brand’s value proposition to each.

Starting to make sense?

4. Design the desired brand experiences and implement them at every touchpoint.

Look at all the touchpoints of each of your audiences. Reflect on the prioritized ranking of your brand pillars—in the mind of those audiences—and then conceptualize the experience you should design for them at that touchpoint in order to deliver the highest value.

For instance, if “seniors at home” can purchase your products directly, what is the digital exploration, investigation, and purchase experience, when your brand promises to design specifically for them in an innovative, user-driven way? For your dealers and distributors, what is the logistics and delivery / shipping experience you should deliver if you promise service excellence, and also claim precision and user-driven innovation?

Once conceptualized, take that experience through the design process to prototype and test each element until it reaches the desired brand experience, validated by the intended audience.

If you can initiate and instill this process into every important interaction with your audiences, through every aspect of your business, it will start to influence behavior and build a culture of brand throughout your organization. And if your brand has been built on a solid, well-conceived foundation, then these brand experiences will create value in your brand and have significant impact on business performance.

For further reading:

Designing Authentic Connections to Form a Brand Ecosystem – by Jamey Boiter 09.21.16

The ROI of Design in Mid-Size Manufacturing – by Ed Holme 06.22.16

Power Your Sales & Margins with a Fine-Tuned Brand – by Ed Holme 10.18.16

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