Brand strategy: Three key questions to find your “it” factor

You know what I love about fall, aside from the changing leaves, back to school, and crisp mornings and evenings? It’s one of the best seasons to make a fresh start. As my mom used to say though, it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf.

That’s why I love branding. Your brand is the face, the personality, the voice of your business. It’s your company’s charisma, that elusive “it” quality that sets you apart from all the rest. When you brand or rebrand a company, product or solution, it’s a fresh start–and a new way to find your company’s new or evolving “it” factor that can set you apart in a global marketplace.

Here are three key questions to ask before you even think about turning over that new leaf:

1. What is your audience’s perception of you/your company? Once upon a time, my team and I worked on a branding initiative with a product line group for a large corporation. In one meeting, we sat with the product line folks and had a great conversation about their competitors, SWOTS,  market challenges, tactical projects, etc.

Then I asked what I always consider to be the most important question for any brand conversation: “What do your customers and prospects think of you?”  There was silence for a moment. Eventually, they admitted that their customers thought they were arrogant. This was key for our team to understand–and it became the strategic foundation for our messaging going forward.

2. What is your perception of you/your company? This question is always second in my mind. What you think of your company may be so far removed from what your audience thinks that there is a huge disconnect–something that a strategic branding expert can help you address in your communication plan.

In the meeting I mentioned above, the product line group knew clearly what their strengths were–but these were not being communicated in the right way. We continued with a lengthy conversation about how to get everyone in the sales process thinking–and talking–the same way, so that they could start to change their audience’s perceptions from the top down.

3. What do you want people to think of you/your company? This can be a 20-page Powerpoint presentation or it can be three words on the back of a cocktail napkin. (Personally, I prefer the cocktail napkin approach.) This is what drives everything that you do from here on out–copy, visuals, mission statements, all of it. Every word that people read about you, every graphic element they see, the voice and tone of every message, should reflect who you are and what you stand for.

By asking these three key questions first, you can identify your company’s “it” factor–so you can craft more strategic marketing conversations and a more distinctive visual presence.  And just like that ever elusive “star quality,” people will know it–your brand–when they see it.

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