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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Moving the brand forward initially – also known as "thriving on chaos"

The key to branding the organization is to be able to do a number of things simultaneously. It’s not going to work in a, b, c order. You can expect a bit of chaos.

For one thing, you will work on the brand SIMULTANEOUSLY with other marketing and awareness campaigns. The whole world is not going to stop and wait for you to come up with a name and a tagline. Things are dynamic. Deal with it.

For another thing, you have to start lining up your “ducks in a row.” Meaning, you have to get the strategy together. Do you have a brand touchpoint analysis done yet? In other words, do you know all the places where employees, customers and other stakeholders encounter the brand? Time to write it down and prioritize: which are the most important encounters, the ones that have to be controlled most seriously? You also need to do a situation analysis: what is the history of the brand, what is the rationale for branding today, what are all the risks and challenges associated with branding and how are you prepared to deal with them? The analysis should include all the initial actions you want to take to create brand awareness; one of those actions should be the creation of a brand council (see below for a bit more detail on this).

Third, are you settled with the name and tagline? Time to get the team brainstorming…even if the name is set in stone the tagline needs to be agreed upon. There has to be agreement within your marketing group, and then you need to radiate outward to the brand council, composed of individuals from all lines of the business, which will agree on one. Branding doesn’t work unless there is strong consensus that propels the initiative forward.

Fourth, you must get some basic background collateral together: a brand vision/mission/values poster and pocket card, a brand reference book/website for employees, and public affairs guidance (talking points) for your media group. These documents set the stage for all the other brand communication you will be doing because they set expectations not only about what the brand is, but about how it should be expressed verbally and visually.

This is only the beginning…but ideally you and your team should be getting more involved, more excited about the brand as you go along. Are you feeling it? If not, go back to the drawing board, because something is wrong.

More on this theme to follow in future posts.