Steps to Branding Success pt. 1

Steps to Branding Success pt. 1

In this two-part blog series on 1st Steps to Branding Success, we will outline why it is essential that you start at the beginning, and focus on the foundational building blocks of your branding before you start investing time, energy and resources into flyers, promo’s, taglines and websites. First things first!

Organizations want to be perceived in a certain way by others, the community and donors.  Everything that you do to build awareness and a good reputation for your organization is part of your branding. There are many components that go into building your brand identity.

There’s a funny story that has been around for a long time about outrunning the bear. I’m sure you’ve probably heard it, but just in case here it is:

Two guys are walking out in the woods and run into a bear. Scared witless, the first guy immediately drops to his knees and prays frantically. The second guy calmly starts lacing up his boots. The first guy, in disbelief, exclaims to the second guy, “What on earth are you doing? You can’t outrun a bear.” The second guy confidently responds, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I only have to outrun you.”

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Mindset Matters

Many of us embrace that same mindset with branding our organization, business, products and causes.   We think that we have to outrun the guy next to us – we have to be better, stronger and spend more on resources than the other person. We are continually confronted with a world of endless technology, marketing and branding from an overwhelming number of people, businesses and charities, all wanting our attention. In a study done by SJ Insights, the average person is exposed to anywhere from 3,000 to a staggering 20,000 messages and brands a day.

So, how do we stand out in this sea of marketing and branding?                                                    

1. Be you

Be who you are. Focus on your strengths and grow your brand from there. What is your brand’s objective? Your brand should signify what you value and your contribution to a cause. Once you define your objective, direct your actions towards achieving that objective. Be the very best that you can be in the area that is your expertise. There is extreme freedom in this, knowing that you do not have to continually compare yourself with others, always trying to be one-step ahead of the competition (or the bear).

2. Build Value

Some people want to start their branding with social media campaigns, a redesigned website or logo, or mass mail appeals. All of these are good and have a very specific place as you design your branding plan, however, it is not where you start. Start with the foundation – knowing your value and delivering value. Value comes first. As people see and experience value, they will be on board. They become clients, partners, donors, supporters and advocates. No matter how much money you spend on marketing and branding, if people do not experience value, they will walk away. They will look for value somewhere else. As we stated earlier, we live in a world of endless possibilities and once you lose a customer, it is much harder to get them back a second time.

So, before the emails go out and the campaign kicks off, define your objective. Ask the hard questions: What do we want to be known for? What is our identity?  How do we add value to the area we say is our expertise?  A strong identity will help to shape a strong brand.

*In Part 2 of 1st Steps to Branding Success we will discuss 3 more essential, foundational qualities necessary – before the actual marketing gets underway. These 3 qualities can make or break an organization. Stay tuned!

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