Corporate branding can be a difficult concept to grasp, particularly for those who aren’t familiar with it. It is, in many ways, intangible. It is often considered to be an afterthought to the more perfunctory functions of business. But should it be? Or should corporate branding strategy take the lead, before traditional business practices? Let’s find out.
Corporate Branding, Before Everything Else
You’re in the midst of establishing your start-up; or, you’re writing a business plan. What are the first thing’s you’ll think about? The space that you’ll lease? The employees you will hire? The money you’ll need to buy inventory?
Before you add one more thing to that list, consider this: Corporate branding should always be your first step. Traditional thinking may dictate that you establish the tangible first, so that you’ll have the resources with which to build your brand, but as successful corporate branding strategies have proven, putting the intangible and the emotive before the brick-and-mortar is a far more effective way to work.
In short, today’s branding experts are recommending that start-ups begin by asking themselves what values they want to impart to their industry, and what feelings they want to conjure within their audiences, before they make any practical, monetary decisions. The wisdom in this approach is this: If you know your destination, or the things you most want to accomplish, you can then more effectively (and economically) procure the necessities for achieving your goals.
Here are just a few thinking points from How to Build a Brand that will help any start-up to think counterintuitively about corporate branding and business:
- Who are your ideal clients? Where do they come from? What are their pains, needs, and preferences? Asking these questions before you establish the nuts-and-bolts of your business will allow you to more easily tailor your processes to please the people who are most important to your brand. They will get the impression that your corporate brand was built just for them – because it was.
- What are the most common problems and complaints within your industry? Do your research, answer this question with genuine honesty, and build your USP (unique selling point) around what you learn. When you use this to build the foundation of your brand, it will inherently fill a gap that has already been recognised by your ideal clients.
- What emotions will most effectively spur your target audience to action? What feelings do your ideal clients crave? Know this first, and then set out to design experiences and create memories that will induce the emotions that you know are most precious to the people with the greatest potential to be loyal to your brand.
- Where are your ideal clients hanging out? Where can they be found, looking for the most ideal answers to their questions and solutions to their problems? Learn about the habits of your target audience and then fashion your business practices around their behaviours. This will not only give you a built-in platform for branded communications, it will prove to your ideal clients that you understand the way they operate.
It’s time to commit to stepping outside of your corporate branding comfort zone to create a brand with a destination…a brand that knows what it wants to accomplish and makes targeted provisions for doing so.
Let’s dispose of the notion that in business, tangible trumps intangible. Instead, let’s start thinking counterintuitively – because all the great ones have.
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