Corporate branding adds long-term book value and profitability to an organisation. This is because it is the first essential step in the process of creating a credible and professional shop window for its products and services. It can also help to ensure that staff are engaged and that they feel empowered to deliver a better and more coherent experience to customers. It ensures that prospects are handled in a consistent way at every single touch point in the sales pipeline process. It improves the likelihood that the staff selection process will lead to the recruitment of people with resonant values and views.
A respected brand will add value to the bottom line, by creating goodwill in a business – where goodwill is measured as a financial asset on the balance sheet. Many organisations, especially those operating within the start-up enterprise and SME marketplace, fail to optimise their corporate brand proposition, in spite of the considerable value that a meaningful investment in this area can bring to the future value of their business. This is not entirely surprising. Corporate branding is arguably seen as being a ‘nice to have’, something which is perhaps not so relevant to smaller organisations. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want your business to be more successful, investing in a corporate brand proposition is an essential component in the marketing planning process, as is an appropriate investment in stakeholder marketing communications.
Why is corporate branding important?
Corporate branding is important because it represents the character and personality of an organisation. Without such attributes, the company lacks a soul – or perhaps less spiritually, it is better to think of a brand as being the DNA of the company. It is sometimes easier to understand a brand if we think of ourselves as being brands. Take yourself. What does your brand proposition look like? What standards and principles guide the choices that you make? What opinions or views do you hold on matters important to your belief system? What moral code and ethical framework do you operate within? What are your natural skills and personal attributes. What genuine passions give your life a sense of meaning and purpose? The answer to these questions, in a nutshell, is why a corporate brand proposition is so important. It defines the values, views, virtues and vision of any organisation. It is a fundamental strategy to align the character and personality of the business with the behaviours and attitudes of its owners, directors, management team, employees, partners and associates.
Strategic brand proposition
We speak to all relevant stakeholders – such as shareholders, directors, management, employees, associates, partners, suppliers, customers and prospects – through one-to-one meetings, phone calls, online surveys, and any other means appropriate to individual client needs. This enables us to get a much better understanding for their business – it is a fast track methodology we use to develop a deep understanding of the business plan; much better than just reading it and any accompanying sales figures and growth forecasts. This process also enables us to get a really good feel for the inherent atmosphere and culture within the organisation, and we are able to clearly see any dissonance and incongruity between plans, perceptions and reality amongst all internal and external stakeholders. We often hold a series of workshops to discuss the business plan, organisational processes, products and services, customers and competitors. A review of competitor websites provides us with valuable insights into their marketing strategies, and we also use mystery shopping techniques to evaluate how they interact with customers, and desk research to analyse both digital and non-digital lead generation/business development activities. A review of customer segments helps us to understand the key demographics and psychographics that guide rational and emotional decision-making patterns. We also conduct focus groups, telephone research and online questionnaires where necessary and appropriate to do so. A review of the products and services offered by the organisation will enable us to identify the key features and benefits to inform the development of key messages and core propositions that are likely to resonate with various target audiences. We undertake additional desk research as necessary to finetune our understanding of external factors affecting the business, the industry sector at large, and the marketplace within which it operates, including different sales channel systems and distribution network methodologies. The next step in the process is a brainstorm to identify the values, views, virtues and vision of the business. These in turn allow us to create internal and external service charters that deliver meaningful pledges to relevant stakeholders. Finally, we are able to identify USPs and to make recommendations about positioning statements to assist with the creative process.
Creative brand proposition
The creative brand proposition unsurprisingly focuses on the visual side of things, which is often referred to as brand identity. This can include coming up with a new name for a business or product/service, and logo design. The scope of work involved will depend upon the needs of the individual client. In terms of brand identity, we always develop three creative concepts to share with the client, which we find is the sweet spot of choice to work with, and we apply these concepts to both logo options and design styles for core collateral relevant to the brief.
Stakeholder marketing communications
The next stage in the process is to develop stakeholder marketing communications – such as the website, brochures, stationery, exhibition stands, uniforms, signage, livery, presentations, videos, and so on. We follow an agile and dynamic approach to design development, as this is what always seems to work best. We work closely with clients to develop copy with the right tone of voice, to further refine the logo, icons, colour waves, stock imagery, photography, and so on. Each item follows on from the others, and it is normal to begin with the website and to work outwards from there.
This will inevitably end up with the production of a set of brand guidelines that are fit for purpose, as well as potentially leading to the creation of a staff handbook that is meaningful, engaging and useable. This process will be straightforward, because of all the time and effort expended in looking at the strategic and creative elements of the corporate brand proposition.
The final part in the process is to devise strategic and tactical campaigns for business generation purposes that are relevant and engaging, and which are of course based upon the strategic and creative brand proposition. This should be comparatively easy to do, because of all the planning work that has been put in place. It will also be a pretty simple process to create strategies that are effective, and creative outputs that resonate meaningfully with customer segments. This is where the measurement of KPIs concerning profit, sales, prospects and conversion can be put into place, as well as plans for optimising customer loyalty and maximising lifetime value. These activities include both digital marketing and traditional marketing & PR.
Keep up to date
The world of corporate branding changes all the time. To keep up to date with all the latest news is almost impossible, but you can keep on top of things by following us on social media – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you would like to have a conversation with us about corporate branding, please contact Stephen Brown on 020 7795 8175 or firstname.lastname@example.org – you can also visit our website at www.abacusmarketing.co.uk to find out more.