Clarity, consistency and focus

The three laws of great brand management—Clarity, consistency and focus are the hallmarks of superior marketing

 

Building a strong brand increases revenue. It works like this: When you create alignment for your brand—inside and out—you communicate stability, direction, vision and unity to your employees and clients. Alignment builds confidence, trust and excitement, and creates momentum. It drives productivity across the business and contributes to a thriving company culture. Empowered, effective employees generate a heightened client experience. Delighted clients spread word-of-mouth referrals.

The success formula, therefore, looks like this:

Strong brand = alignment = improved performance = increased revenue.

A TRIO OF RULES

In looking over that formula, can't you just imagine the security and peace of mind that might result if your business took that path? To get there in the coming year, here are three laws to follow.

Law 1: Be clear and concise. Brevity and significance are an essential combination. Determine who your specific audience is and find out what they care about. This will allow you to target the visual look and feel of your brand, messaging, content and collateral materials to what your clients actually want.

For example, you may be spending more on an elaborate project when a simple, more cost-effective option would actually have a bigger effect. Perhaps the intricate, leather-bound prospect book loaded with a detailed history of your firm has no value because the intended audience never reads it. You may discover that clients would prefer less communication from you or that the messages you are using simply aren't resonating.

Another, perhaps more important fact is that using language that your audience can relate to and clearly understand is paramount. So many times, brands use language that is meaningful internally but don't resonate to the outside world the same way. Use plain language.

Law 2: Be consistent. Hundreds of elements compete for our attention every day. In a world filled with overstimulation, the last thing prospective clients have time for is having to discern who you are, what you do and why your website has changed three times in the last six months. Consistency translates to stability, especially in the business world. Your logo, color palette, e-mail signature, business card and trade show booth—among a host of other things—should all be united with one cohesive look and feel.

The speech bubble has become an immediate signifier of The Charles Schwab Corp.'s advertising. Whether or not it appears in the ad, the phrase “Talk to Chuck” has been ingrained in our minds. From design to messaging, tone and voice, the marketers at Schwab understand the value of consistency. A framework for standardization of your business system and sales and marketing materials is hugely important.

Law 3: Stay focused. After all is said and done, the biggest challenge will be to maintain excellent management of your brand by staying focused. Provide leadership and direction over what is an appropriate engagement for your firm (and therefore a representation of your brand) and what isn't.

The easiest way to do this is to create a filter. For design elements, a style guide will keep you in check. A style guide is an internal company resource that provides direction for the proper expression of a company's brand and usage of its visual elements. For business decisions such as partnerships or marketing engagements, it helps to define a set of core values by which the firm operates. Any decision measured against these and your firm's mission and vision should help you determine whether it's aligned to who you are and what you're about. Staying focused will reinforce the consistency and clarity you've already established for your brand.

Business is not what it used to be. If you don't clearly differentiate your firm among hundreds of others, it will be too easy for a prospective client to lump your firm into a generic category. In 2018, make them take notice.