Ten Steps to Branding Heaven
Michael Peters

This involves looking closely at every element of the business and how the brand should affect it on an ongoing basis.

How do you build a brand and ensure its remains strong, healthy and valuable over the long term? Let me take you through my ‘Ten Steps to Branding Heaven' which I hope will give you a clear understanding of how to achieve this.

1. Put the consumer first
This means understanding and balancing consumers' functional and emotional needs. What do they want from their mobile phone or car in terms of performance or capability? And how does the product satisfy their lifestyle expectations. It's all about winning over their hearts and minds.

2. Think holistically – about the whole thing, the bigger picture
Companies must communicate to a wide audience – consumers, customers, communities, staff, suppliers, shareholders. Thinking holistically means taking everything into account and becoming consistent across everything that you do.

3. Understand precisely who you are
Ask yourselves fundamental questions about what kind of business you want to become. What markets are you going to enter? Are you looking towards expanding internationally or are you going to remain regionally focused? What diversification plans do you envisage? Only when your objectives are clear can an appropriate brand evolve.

4. Develop a vision for the future
Success is about being visionary. Brands like Virgin, as I mentioned earlier, are constantly looking forward, always challenging the status quo and delivering value added products and services.

5. Develop your brand strategy and positioning
Ensure that the personality and values you develop reflect all these points. With all the information and insights gathered throughout the health check process, we utilise a number of proven techniques, including mapping and gap analysis, to develop the optimal positioning for the brand. This places it in the minds of its target audiences ahead of, and apart from, both its current competition and potential new competition that we can envisage in the future.

Simultaneously, this allows us to develop a robust brand construct that lays down the essence of the brand, its personality, core values and key attributes, in a form that becomes the definitive description of the brand for all the audiences who have to work with it. By understanding the core values of a brand, we start to build a bigger world and create a strong brand positioning and strategic marketing plan.

6. Be creative
Make a bold statement that you have arrived or changed. Be creative. Be daring. Challenge the conventional. Set a standard, rather than simply follow one. Do something different. Get noticed. Brands also need to be managed with flair, creativity and imagination – from their conception, right through to their visual interpretation and personality.

One of the key expressions of a powerful brand is a strong name and visual identity that will differentiate the brand from its competition and will allow customers, investors, suppliers and employees to recognise and understand the unique personality of the company or product. In other words, it plays a key role in shaping public perceptions of the offer.

So to does packaging. The development of appropriate structural packaging concepts is fundamental to the launch of a new product. This includes identifying new materials, delivery mechanisms and product features.

7. Involve your staff in the brand
Once the brand positioning and communication strategy have been established, it is your employees who will carry the message. They will become your brand's ambassadors. You must fully explain the thinking that has gone into any changes, ensuring that they feel part of their creation. It's vital that you make them feel important. The more brand communications the better.

8. Look for ways to leverage value from your brand
There are essentially two ways to leverage value from brands:

The first literally involves using your brand personality and values to redefine and expand your brand identity. Rather like putting more air in a balloon.

The second is to create such strong values that they might be used as a springboard for new business ventures and diversification. Think about Virgin again. First a record store, then an airline, then a clothing company, then a mobile phone company. What next?

9. Monitor your brand's performance
Constantly check that your audience is receiving the right messages from your brand. If they misinterpret something and take away the wrong message, your brand is not doing its job.

10. Implement a communications programme
There must be consistency across all communications. This requires the implementation of a programme right across the board – from newsletters, notice boards and email through to corporate literature, advertising and PR. The level of consistency will dictate how the company is perceived.

We ensure that each piece embraces a brand ‘look and feel' and builds a strong, unique visual language over time. This may include colours, textures, ideas and materials that can become ownable by a brand.

We look at all the visual media used to convey the brand messages, in order to create finely targeted communication within a clearly defined structure, taking into account the diversity of audiences, message and budget. Our work often involves writing copy for materials, advertising, direct mail, sales promotion, training programmes and event management – each reflecting the brand positioning and look and feel.

 

Articles and speeches shown on this site were written and / or produced by Michael Peters while Chief Executive / Creative Director of the Michael Peters Group Plc and Identica Limited