Have you ever said something like this before?
“I’m starting a new company and we need a website. Our customers just don’t understand what it is we do.”
Stop right there. A communication channel is not going to solve your branding problem.
Where Does Branding Start?
A small handful of things bring about the need to start looking at your brand. The most obvious but not necessarily the most common reason is the much anticipated launch of a new company or product. Incidentally for us designers, while this is the most appealing project scenario, it has potential to be deceptively challenging, because getting the opportunity to work from a truly “blank sheet of paper” is rare.
Other situations that tend to prompt some brand introspection are a change in name, the need to revitalize the brand, or a desire to establish a more integrated image or message, and finally – and perhaps the most prevalent in business today – a company merger and the need to preserve the equity of both brands while creating something new.
Make no mistake; resolving any of these objectives properly will be a lengthy and very involved process. And no matter which one is the cause for initializing this process, there is one thing you can do that will help ensure a successful outcome for your branding efforts – involve the right people at the right time.
The strongest brands are built from the inside out. From the very beginning, your top level management must champion the effort, passing their enthusiasm and support on to your staff. You will also need to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your company, seeking outside counsel for support where required.
In-House May Be Too “Inside the Box”
After evaluating the structure of many B2B companies in the life sciences and technology industry, a rising trend toward in-house marketing is apparent. Some factors that may be driving this trend are the desire to maintain control—after all, who doesn’t want to be in control— and the belief that the product is so technical that only someone who has been directly involved in its development or who has worked intimately in the field would be able to sell it or market it to such an intelligent niche audience.
The drawback to relying soley on in-house marketing is that while those charged with the responsibility for developing or managing the brand have extensive insight and understanding of the market and product, they too often have little to no experience in brand identity development.
Two Heads Are Better Than One
The best way to compensate for this is to supplement the branding process with some outside expertise. It’s not a new idea. Many successful companies are doing it; and, frankly, it’s likely to be one of the differentiating factors in their success.
Because branding is truly about seizing every opportunity to express why people should choose your brand over another, you would be wise to consider at the onset of building a brand identity just how many opportunities there are to account for. Each touch point, be it a website, blog, business card, speech or even the way you answer the phone calls, is a unique opportunity to reach your audience. Thinking about this and planning for it early in the process is critical. Building this collective toolbox takes time, managing it takes discipline, and knowing when to deploy the tools requires a top-down perspective of the overall goals for the brand.
Consulting with creative agencies who are rich with expertise in building and managing brands should be a part of your planning process. By sharing your business goals and objectives with them early you can better anticipate the costs and timelines for going to market with a tangible brand message.
Agencies are populated with talented individuals who have spent their entire careers mastering ways to take a message and package it for multiple mediums and audiences, capitalizing on each variance in the medium, leveraging everything from sound, color, space, image, and typography to touch your audience and appeal to them on a visceral level. That, combined with intimate knowledge of the product or company and its stakeholders, is what it takes to be found in a sea of images, brands and competitors across our global market.
Is your brand identity sinking or setting sail?