All brands are not equal.
Companies are extremely good at defining their product brands. Customers, employees, and other stakeholders know what an iPhone is and means. But organizations are often less sure-footed when it comes to the corporate brand. What does the parent company’s name really stand for, and how is it perceived and leveraged in the market place and within the company itself? Here are seven key challenges in corporate branding:
To have high name awareness is essential. However, to have a well-known name and logo is only the first step in the building of a corporate brand. A corporate brand cannot just stand there, it need to stand for something.
“WE KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE THAT PEOPLE DO BUSINESS WITH ORGANIZATIONS THEY LIKE AND TRUST.”
A corporate brand’s reputation – or image – is about perceptions. All brands have a reputation – for better or for worse. Since perceived reality is reality, the reputation of a corporate brand will influence business opportunities found or lost in the marketplace.
“THE KEY ISSUE IS WHETHER TO SETTLE FOR A REPUTATION MOLDED BY OTHERS, OR WORK FOR ONE OVER WHICH WE EXERT SOME INFLUENCE.”
We all have identity cards, such as passports, stating our name and distinguishable features that can be instantly recognized. However, our passport doesn’t say anything about our visions, our personality, our values, or about our field of leadership. The corporate name and logotype help to identify a corporation but are only one aspect of the broader concept of corporate brand identity.
“WHERE DO WE COME FROM? WHAT DO WE STAND FOR AND WHAT DO WE PROMISE? AND, WHAT IS OUR INTENDED POSITION?”
The brand strategy is a mean to reach goals set by the business strategy. Without clear goals, brands are lost, like Alice in Wonderland: “‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ Alice asked the Cat. ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat. ‘I don’t much care where’ – said Alice. ‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.” The moral is: set goals for your brands!
“THE BRAND STRATEGY IS A MEAN TO REACH GOALS SET BY THE BUSINESS STRATEGY”
I like to think of the corporate brand as the mother, and product brands as daughters. A corporation often has a portfolio of brands, i.e. a collection of brands they carry. The principle how to organize and use brands are questions of brand structure (architecture). The key questions are: How many brands do we need? If more than one, how shall they be related? And, what is the role and function of each of our brands?
“THE OBJECTIVES ARE SYNERGY, LEVERAGE, RELEVANCE, AND CLARITY”
The sixth challenge in corporate branding is to select a relevant and appealing brand promise. Here are four essential positioning questions to consider:
For whom …? (Target customers and segments),
In the business of …? (Defining the business of the corporation),
Promising …? (Key promise) and, finally,
Proven by …? (Facts and proof supporting the promise given).
“A BRAND IS A PROMISE. A PROMISE KEPT CREATES TRUST. TRUST CREATES LOYALTY.”
Examining and refining your corporate brand is a true leadership task that requires far-reaching input and commitment, passion, and grit. The outcome – a sharpened brand, stronger relationships, and a unified organization – can provide a clear competitive edge.
“A LEADERSHIP WITH THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF A BRAND’S IDENTITY IN FOCUS WITH THE AIM TO COMMUNICATE AND BUILD A STRONG EARNED REPUTATION”
– Defining who the organization is and what it stands for
– Presenting one face to the world
– Building trust over time
– Focusing and endorsing strategic (daughter) brands
– Differentiating and competing to achieve price premium and growth