4 Steps to Keep Your Brand Strong After the Initial Launch
May 31, 2018
We are in the brand building business: we help clients build new brands, refresh old brands, and sometimes just hone an already strong brand. Of course, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of discovering your unique claim of distinction and all of the new ways that it can be brought to life – the shiny new look of a logo and color palette; the poetry of finely crafted messaging that engages the audience; the new “team rally cry” adopted by employees. It’s a like a new lease on life…until it isn’t.
Like a new car, a new brand can lose its luster once it’s been driven around a while. At first you wash it and polish it, you keep it clean, wanting to retain that “new car smell.” But after a while, when life gets in the way, you don’t keep up with it as much as before – you leave a coffee cup here or there, things start to pile up in the back seat. Those exact things can happen with a brand as well, where life – or the daily grind of business – gets in the way, and keeping your new brand shiny falls by the wayside.
How do you prolong that “new car smell” for as long as possible? Follow these four steps to keep your brand strong after the initial launch:
1) Keep it consistent:
You’ve just invested a lot of money into creating a consistent look, feel, and tone for your brand. Likely you were provided with brand guidelines that outline the proper use of logo, colors, fonts, photography, copy, and even more. You will get sick of your colors, fonts, visuals, and language much sooner than the public. In fact, your audience sees thousands of brands and messages daily, and the only chance you stand to cut through the clutter is to remain true to your brand values. You will have the urge to change things up, even if it’s just going to be some internal messaging. Don’t do it. This is how the brand starts to erode – a brand actually strengthens when the same drum is being beat over and over and over. You spent a lot of time and effort finding your unique voice, make sure you stick to it.
2) Engage your people:
Your people are your biggest asset. They are your living, breathing brand 24/7. When you launched your new brand, everyone was excited and they were all on board. But eventually, when the excitement is gone, it’s easy to slip back into old habits. There’s never a more crucial time than your brand launch to put a program in place that will help keep your employees engaged and waving your flag. We like to use an Enculturation™* exercise, developed exclusively for members of The Brand Establishment, to help our clients’ employees continue to build on their brand investment. It provides a structure where employees work together on a regular basis to ensure the brand promise is being brought to life internally and externally. By investing in a program where fresh ideas and accountability are baked into the culture, the employees are more engaged, more satisfied, and are motivated to ensure their brand is being properly represented.
3) Understand that brand is not marketing:
A brand is your unique claim of distinction; it is the entire experience one gets when they interact with you at various touchpoints. Your brand is who you are at your core and how you differentiate yourself in the marketplace. Marketing, on the other hand, is how you push out your products and services. It’s the messaging that helps the audience understand features, benefits, and why they should be motivated to make a purchase. While marketing contributes to the success of a brand, the brand itself lives above all marketing tactics. And all marketing messages should roll up into what the brand is about. So, while your marketing approach may change with the season, your brand should not. It is the steadfast experience that your audience gets whenever they interact with you, whether it’s seeing marketing materials, interacting with an employee, using your website, or seeing you on social media.
4) Revisit, remember, re-commit:
It is important to make sure your brand is being nurtured to successfully endure the long haul. Incorporate brand health into your annual strategic planning sessions, and put initiatives in place to ensure the brand promise is being met consistently day in and day out. Make time for a brand reminder or refresher during regular internal events such as monthly, quarterly, or annual employee meetings, management meetings, or during training – make sure that the fundamentals of your brand are being addressed, even if as a quick reminder of what you stand for.
I believe that strong brands live at the center of management’s vision, employee culture, and audience motivation, so make it a point to revisit yours at least once a year to see if your brand is defendable in the marketplace, delivered in a consistent manner by your internal staff, and that it is relevant and desirable to your audience. If you can keep these practices in mind, your brand is bound to be stronger and withstand the test of time.
As a member of Brand Establishment, Chris Tieri is the only Certified Brand Strategist in New England. Her and her team of industry experts in brand building and performance marketing are determined to help transform businesses with passion and distinction. *To learn more about Enculturation™, be sure to contact us.