Branding Is More than Skin Deep
What better way to show a brand’s triumph over its business challenges than to introduce a new look in the form of a logo? That’s what Yahoo recently did after a month-long test of different logo treatments.
While Yahoo CEO and former Google executive Marissa Mayer’s concept of testing a broad variety of options provided the firm with a lot of data and insight into its logo, it missed the fact that branding is more skin deep. A brand is shorthand representation of the organization.
Don’t get me wrong. Yahoo’s month long, crowd sourced logo test was an inspired move but it needed to go beyond seeming to ask a budget creative shop for an array of options. No branding firm worth their salt would rebrand an organization without doing the underlying research and analysis before starting the creative process.
Therefore, Yahoo’s branding project missed the opportunity to leverage the power of this campaign to drive greater engagement and strong brand affiliation. Think of how Coke used the introduction and later recall of “new coke” to increase customer loyalty.
From a corporate and branding perspective, Yahoo still must incorporate a range of distinctly different products and brands, some legacy and some formerly independent. This requires thinking through how to incorporate or leave them independent without hurting the attributes that resonate with their core users and advertisers.
To create a brand in today’s 360° social media, device indifferent world requires thinking about these 7 brand attributes.
- What does your brand stand for? This is an important question that many businesses don’t fully think out when they’re in startup mode. For example, while many viewers use “The Daily Show” as a means of getting the day’s news, it is still “fake” news. A point Jon Stewart made on “Crossfire”. If you’re not sure how to respond to this point, get your team together and try some of the classic branding exercises to flesh out answers such as if your brand were an animal what would it be and why?
- What are your brand’s core values? What drives your business and your approach to your prospects, customers, employees, and the public? Are you the friendly neighborhood shop people use because they like you or are you the mechanic people go to when the company’s service department has no clue of what to do? For example, many systems departments in large companies choose IBM because it’s known as a reliable brand. Therefore, it’s critical to think beyond your products to your employees. What are the most important attributes you look for in your employees? Is it school smarts, customer feedback, or sales generated?
- What are your brand’s goals? Think beyond acquiring customers and driving profitable sales. To this end, apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to understand your customers. What do you want your company to accomplish long term? For example, Apple under Steve Jobs took its slogan “Think Different” to heart. Apple went beyond its computer products to change how we listened to and buy music with its iPod. Then it took that further with the iPhone and iPad, small computers that changed not only how we consume and share content but how we perform various daily activities.
- What is your brand’s history? Think about your past. What are the stories about your offering that people remember and re-tell? As the Heath brothers pointed out in Made To Stick, people remember stories not numbers. They relate to other people. This is one of the reasons that photographs are like social media glue. (Here are 29 corporate story options to help you.) Names are also important. For example, Yahoo stands for an inside techy joke, specifically: “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”
- What is your core offering in terms of products and services? What holds them together as a unified organization? Bear in mind that your target audience may only use one product or service. What customer needs do they fulfill? Make sure that you’re considering your users’ perspective that can differ from buyers, influencers and decision makers. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and assess the range of competitive products. Don’t overlook near substitutes and free offerings.
- Who is your target audience? You can’t think in terms of broad categories of people because that makes it difficult to develop tailored marketing and communications. Consider creating both marketing personas and social media personas to gain insights into your audience.
- What do your employees, customers, social media influencers and the public think of your brand? In today’s world, companies don’t own their brands; these various segments do. If you’ve got an established customer and/or user base, it’s important to get their input regarding your brand. While it’s tempting to gloss over the not-so positive aspects of your brand, your audience won’t. So discover what the issues are by asking them and then providing solutions to their problems.
Since a brand is more than a skin deep, it must be aligned with your business objectives. Take the time to do the work required to create your brand.
What else would you add to this branding list and why?
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