Branding or re-branding your company can be a highly sensitive subject. Think about it. The brand is the “personality" of a company. Each person who participates in defining the brand brings their own set of experiences, preferences, tastes, and values to the process, often contributing to a prolonged exercise that can be both frustrating and costly. You'll find that few employees really understand the importance, value, or meaning of the brand definition, including the CEO, other executives, technical, administrative, operations, or sales staff, though it is important that all play a role in the process.
Thus, branding begins with education, then requires brainstorming, discussion, evaluation, and-the thing that's often most difficult to obtain-consensus!! Not that 100% consensus is essential (or even realistic), but when you're shaping something as important as a brand you need a certain level of “buy-in" from all levels of the organization to make it work.
To make the branding process efficient and fun at the same time, consider the following methodology:
1. Conduct a brand perception survey of a selected group of your customers, prospects, employees, and partners as an “audit" of your current identity. Ask questions about how they perceive your current brand (or if it is a new company, what attributes they would look for in a company of this type). If appropriate for your audiences, a quick and cost-effective method for surveying is to create a web-based form that you distribute via email messages linking to the form. Summarize and evaluate the survey results, which you then can carry forward into focused discussions.
2. Reserve focused time for a brand workshop (two or three half days over a 1-2 week span) and invite key contributors. Blocking off this time may be difficult with everyone's busy schedule, but the productivity gained and time saved is well worth it. Try locating the workshop off-site, as it reduces distractions and provides a pleasant break from the day-to-day work environment, promoting creativity and focus.
3. Develop and conduct the workshop around the goals of educating the team about branding and reaching a certain level of consensus around what the new brand definition should be. You want to gather enough information to create a clear positioning statement, a list of brand values/traits, the brand promise, and the brand story. If you have time, you can also start to develop ideas around taglines, logo design, colors, and imagery. Gaining consensus on these topics often requires an extremely good facilitator and a solid, well-structured agenda.
4. Publish your results and re-survey your sample for feedback. This time, provide the new positioning, identity descriptions, and any other ideas or concepts you have developed based on the workshop results. Use the feedback from this second round of surveys to refine your identity. You may find that your results are “right on" or slightly off base. Rarely will you have to start from scratch. You may choose to conduct additional follow-up surveys to zero in on what works best.
5. Finally, document your brand strategy, circulate it for final approval, and begin the implementation!
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