360 Degree Branding

10 Brand Elements To Assess

360 degree branding goes liveBrands enhance the value of the products, companies and people they represent whether for a B2B, B2C, Not-for-Profit (aka NFP) or solopreneur. Today’s social media-connected, content marketing rich environment demands you have a 360 degree brand.

Since this new multi-dimensional approach extends beyond most organization’s traditional brand guidelines, you must expand your brand to define it in terms of all of the senses. To this end, think in terms of tangible and intangible elements associated with your organization.

Three brand related factors

Here are three critical factors to assess before enhancing your branding because they define your offering and your market. (Here’s help developing your brand’s DNA.)

  1. Values. What does your organization stand for? What are your products’ important attributes?  What characteristics do you seek in your employees? What are your views towards the community on social media and where you’re physically located?
  2. Customers. Who’s your target audience? How do you describe them in terms of demographics, psychographics and past activities? Who are the marketing personas for whom you’re creating your content?
  3. Competitors. Consider your direct competitors (firms targeting the same customer segments), mass marketers (companies like Amazon and Walmart that sell a broad range of products) and local sellers in other locations. (Follow the Godfather’s advice about competitors.)

Ten 360 degree brand elements you need to assess

Here are ten 360 degree brand elements and questions to develop and/or expand your organization’s branding.

  1. Colors. As visual brand shorthand, color is often the starting place for branding. Companies in competitive categories take red or blue, the most dominant colors. With expansion to a 360 degree view of your brand, consider how your corporate colors render on a variety of devices including computers, smartphones, tablets and gaming devices. For example, think of Best Buy’s blue staff t-shirts.
  2. Sounds. What noise does your product or brand make? Do you have an associated set of tones or audio logo? Do you have music or a jingle? The goal is for your audience to be able to identify your brand without seeing it.
  3. Language. What language does your brand use? Does it have regional inflections or local slang?  Do you allow foul language or colloquial terms like awesome or groovy?
  4. Stories. Since stories are interwoven into content and social media to help people remember facts about your company, what tales and history will you focus on? How do these relate to your products? Is anything special needed to retell these these tales?
  5. Text. When most people think of content, they visualize text on a page or screen. From a branding perspective, select appropriate typeface and fonts. To ensure consistency, determine how readable the typeface is. Test black on white or white on black. Consider your audience’s age because if they’re over 40, they’re probably wearing reading glasses. Limit the number of typefaces you use since too much variety is distracting and makes it look like no one is paying any attention. Use colors and bolding to build consistency while facilitating scanability.
  6. Visual representations including logos, graphics, photographs and videos. Does your product or company have a visual shorthand in the form of a logo or other graphic? It may be a name or a character. Where does it appear? Are you using professional or amateur photographs? Are they B&W or color? Who’s in the photographs? Where are they taken? How are products presented? Are they in use? What keywords are associated with the images and photographs? Does this change for video? What are your guidelines for responding to graphics, photographs and video where your brand appears by accident?
  7. Staff presentation. Who will represent your organization? Before you assume that it’s your CEO, understand that they have low credibility with consumers.What language do they speak? If you’ve got a technical product, have technically savvy staff explain how to use it and answer questions. Present them in the appropriate context. Do they need lab coats or hard hats? How should the rest of your staff dress? Should your employees be dressed in suits or company t-shirts? Do you care about hair, tattoos, pierced body parts and other personal grooming issues? Where text communication is required, do you have a copy editor to ensure everyone’s writing is consistent in tone and grammatically correct? Remember this extends to any part of your organization where there’s customer contact including customer service and retail.
  8. Brand representative. Mad Men like Leo Burnett created brand mascots like Tony the Tiger. In today’s social media world that demands a level of transparency, there are less brand mascots and more brand ambassadors. These are real people who represent their firm. The challenge for organizations is separating the business representative from the personal. It’s less of a problem for high profile stars such as Lady Gaga. Companies need to consider not only the brand equity but also the social media reach.
  9. Platform use. Beyond thinking in terms of owned media, third party media and social media, what media forms and entities provide the right context for your content? Consider how the media entity’s format and brand reflects on your brand. Does it matter what content appears next to your brand. Would you have issues with baby diapers or ED drugs next to your content or advertising?  Define what’s acceptable and what’s not.  Consider media brand, content, language and format.
  10. Internationalization. For international organizations, how will you incorporate different cultural meanings into your brand? Does your brand or company name have a negative meaning in other languages? Do your firm’s colors have consistent meaning across countries? Is it acceptable to use photographs or videos? Do you provide local language copy or not?  How will you support language differences? Before rolling out your branding campaign across borders, check these issues with local staff.

Brands can take on a life of their own in today’s message-laden world. As a marketer, set guidelines to ensure that your brand maintains its consistency and value across platforms.

Are there any other brand related elements you’d add to this list? If so, what are they and why would you include them?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo source:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikkelindqvist/4380207894/

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