5 Key Steps to Grow & Manage Brands
By Rowena Fernandes, ‘Challenging Stereotypes.’
To better understand this concept, let’s draw a parallel between Personal Branding i.e. Brand “ME” and “Branding”.
Starting with the basics — What is Branding? Branding, by definition, is a marketing practice in which a company creates a name, symbol or design that is easily identifiable as belonging to the company.
So, what is Personal branding? Personal Branding is finding your uniqueness, building a reputation on the things you want to be known for, and then allowing yourself to be known for them.
As you realized, these 2 concepts are not very different, in fact it is easier to understand Branding when you humanize it. Remember a brand is a bunch of emotions and strong brands evoke both emotions and strong association with its customers. Ultimately, the goal for both is to create a ‘perceived value’ that a) conveys a message and b) can be monetized.
An example for Personal Branding would be LinkedIn wherein professionals post/connect to get better opportunities. Likewise, for brands like Zomato, Amul, Nike increases the reach & frequency to achieve top/bottom line for the organization would be the main objective.
Now that we understand what “Branding” and “Personal Branding” is all what, lets focus on “how to grow & manage brands?”. Mentioned below are 5 key steps:
Thanks to technology and easy access to information; today brands are susceptible to ever-higher levels of scrutiny. Hence, it’s essential for a brand to know who they are, what they stand for, why do they exist, where do they want to present, when and how they communicate with their customers?
Understand your past / heritage to know who you are as a business (this may limit what you can do in the future based on what you have done in the past). Classic example of this is Jack Daniel Distillery who resumed production of Jack Daniel’s in 1947 only after good-quality corn was available thereby protecting its heritage of producing Quality Tennessee Whiskey.
What’s even more important is to understand what you are NOT? This is a guardrail that will prevent a brand jumping on every topical debate to be viral. Remember the Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’ advert starring Colin Kaepernick (refer to the image)
2. Manage Relations
In my previous article, I had explained in detail how Brands need to collaborate & build its reputation by managing its relations with various stakeholders — employees, media, shareholders, government and consumers. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brand-reputation-management-rowena-fernandes
Today, “Trust” is the new currency for the collaborative ecosystem we live in. Organizations are now aligning their business process to empower their employees (internal customer) to live & act as the Brand to the external customers. For example, Airbnb transparency on the recent layoffs during Covid-19 resulted in higher trust levels for both Airbnb and the CEO Brian Chesky.
3. Be Consistent
Consistency in your positioning, communication, 4P’s is pivotal for creating strong brand associations in target consumer’s mind. Today customers have the attention span of less than that of a goldfish and hence consistency & context are key for creating brands.
For example, Coke had to rebrand ‘Coke Zero’ as ‘Coca-Cola without Sugar’ as customers didn’t associate Coke Zero with Coca-Cola despite the brand being consistent in its logo since 1900 as compared to Pepsi (refer to the image).
Another example would be McDonalds, where you will know the menu, taste, quality and cost of food offered and therefore will mostly trust McDonald when in doubt due to its consistency.
In personal branding, current President Donald Trump is a classic example of un-consistent behaviour versus Barack Obama.
4. Show up
The core function of branding is to maximise physical and mental availability, that is, to ensure that your brand is a) easy for customers to buy and b) famous so they remember to choose you (evidence for this argument can be found in a book How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp).
This buying behaviour was also observed during Covid-19; wherein consumer brought strong brands that provided comfort however at the same time brands that showed up in the shelf space got picked up. The reason being due to Covid-19, people not only reduce the frequency of shopping by buying bulk packs but also reduce the browsing time to shop and hence brands with strong associations & presence on the shelves were taken home.
Influencer Marketing is the best example; where the influencers are not only reachable on social media but also stay relevant by sharing content/posts/videos that add value to their followers.
5. Review to Refresh & Repeat
Target customers perception is your reality and hence reviewing the perceived value of your brand is a prerequisite. There’s a wonderful ted talk by Rory Sutherland wherein he mentioned “what good is the reality if the perception is bad.”
Hence at least twice a year, review your target customers perception about you/ your brand in order to change their perception thereby changing the reality. One of the ways to do this is connect with your key advocates / customers through in-depth conversations which will unravel insights for you to work on to create a perception that you desire.
To summarize “Knowing what makes you unique, being consistent in your beliefs, showing up when needed and regularly monitoring one’s progress is what ‘Brand ME’ and ‘Branding’ is all about.”
We at CaratLane are solving some of the most intriguing challenges to make our mark in the relatively uncharted omnichannel jewellery industry. If you are interested in tackling such obstacles, feel free to drop your updated resume/CV to email@example.com!