You don't need the financial resources of a large company to brand your products or services successfully. Branding is nothing more than a consistent, simple marketing message that tells prospective buyers what makes your product special. It sounds easy, but many companies stumble, settling for complicated and undistinguished messages. The best branding campaigns are bold and unequivocal. Here's how to create a winning campaign:
- Confine yourself to one message. Tell the prospective buyer what you're selling and who should buy it. Keep it short, simple and relevant. Perhaps the biggest error people make is trying to hedge their bets when it comes to audiences. Many business people worry about narrowing their market, and so they try to develop a "something for everyone" tag and end up with an ineffective message. For example, if your new widget is designed especially for small business owners, say so. Have the courage of your convictions. Avoid the temptation to throw in a line or two saying big companies might like it, too. If your first message doesn't work, develop another. But don't muddy the waters - stick with one big idea.
- Avoid jargon and complicated words. People don't have the time or interest to decipher your message. When it comes to branding, straightforward language is always best. This is especially true if you deal in the technology sector. Put your message in language that the non-technical user can understand. And avoid acronyms - most people won't know what they mean.
- Be memorable. Chose adjectives that really mean something. Forget the clichés, such as better, faster, improved or user-friendly. Everyone uses these adjectives to convince customers to buy their products. What makes you different from the competition? What is unique, remarkable or special about your product? Look at what your competition is saying about their products. Odds are their descriptions are bland and meaningless.
- Get all your employees behind the branding campaign. Communicate the new branding statement to all internal audiences. Make sure everyone - especially employees who talk to customers - knows and understands your branding message. This won't be a problem if your message is short and simple.
- Use PR to get the message out. Reach plus frequency equals success. Your branding message has to compete with all of the advertising out there. Unless you have deep pockets to fund the development of a professional ad campaign and the purchase of ad space, don't consider advertising. Single or scattered placements in a few publications are a waste of your marketing dollars. Your ads must appear often and in the right media to reach your customers. PR is an umbrella term for many different communication tools. It is a way of getting news out and encouraging others to spread the word for you. Unlike advertising, it doesn't involve purchasing media space. But like any marketing communications effort, it does require time and a plan. In today's world, multiple media channels are mandatory. Depending on the type of product or service, the best PR tactics for your branding campaign will vary. Popular tools include news releases, trade press advisories, customer newsletters or e-letters, web articles, blogs, launch parties/special events, tradeshow activities, etc.
With a little planning and action, you can develop and run a professional branding campaign. The results will be worth the effort.