- Surveys and interviews with senior executives and sales managers.
- Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis for the company as a whole. MARION will guide you
in the process.
What You Need to Know
1) Get an In-depth Understanding of Your Customers
Research these customer attributes:
- Segmentation (e.g. agriculture, construction, hardware stores, regional, etc.)
- Product Purchase Decision Making Process and Purchaser Motivations
- End-user Customer
- Workplace Environment
- Product Usage Behavior
- Customer focus groups and surveys
- Sales and customer service focus groups and surveys
- Visit outlets and stores where your products are sold
2) Get an In-depth Understanding of Your Competition
When a company positions its brand in a customer’s mind, it is positioning that brand against other brands. It is critical to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs) of each competitor along with the industry structure itself. This knowledge is important because you want to uniquely "own" an important benefit in your customer’s mind.
- Competitor information will come from all the customer and sales focus groups and surveys and from industry sources
- MARION can guide you as to where and how to find additional competitive information.
- MARION can help you setup an on-going competitor monitoring program.
- MARION can help you compile a comprehensive competitor SWOT report
How to Build the Brand Management Plan
1) Determine Brand Positioning
Once the target customers have been identified and profiled, and competitors understood, this portion of the Brand Management Plan will focus on the three major components of brand positioning for a differentiating space in customer minds.
Brand Essence –
the brand’s “heart and soul.” It is constant, timeless and enduring. Unchanging overtime, across geographies or in different situations.
Brand Promise –
the promise of a relevant, compelling and differentiating benefit
to the target customer that is delivered at each point of contact with customers
Brand Personality –
the adjectives that describe the brand (trustworthy, appealing, unique, etc.)
Once these three elements are established for each brand, it is the responsibility of the Brand Management Plan team to keep the focus and build the brand.
- Brand Positioning Workshops, involving key stakeholders such as company leaders and marketing and sales managers.
- Brand Essence Exercises as part of focus groups.
- Test resulting brand positioning with customer focus groups.
2) Create Brand Identity Standards and Systems
MARION can help in the development of tools for maintaining brand identity consistency.
- Develop a corporate graphics style
- Publish brand identity standards and systems accessible on intranet sites: use and treatment of names, logos, taglines, typography, symbols, package design, brand voice, visual style etc.
- Develop a simple, formal methodology for your Marketing and Advertising to address internal customer needs for communications (printed sales pieces, letters, trade journal advertising, etc.). Develop an internal project checklist.
- Develop a methodology for Marketing and Advertising to evaluate the effectiveness of their communications
- Create photo libraries
- Brand message guidelines and the use of scripts for sales and customer service.
MARION offers a portfolio of brand building services to foreign and domestic companies seeking to optimize their brand management practices and develop powerful brand building methodologies. We can teach and guide you or provide turnkey services from brand audits to measuring brand equity.
Examine Your Current Brand Management Practices
1) Brand Management Audit – MARION suggests creating a baseline against which to measure future success. Areas examined and rated: Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Positioning, Brand Identity Standards and Systems, Brand Advertising, Internal Brand Building, Marketing and Advertising Employee Skill Sets.
- Surveys and in-depth interviews with all Marketing and Advertising staff.
2) Define Current Brand Architecture – MARION suggests constructing a brand matrix and overlay it with business information, such as distribution, cost of sales, percent of sales, brand impact on the business as a whole, etc. As results are obtained from focus groups, surveys, interview, etc, the brand architecture matrix will be developed further.
- Surveys and in-depth interviews with Marketing and Advertising staff.
- Gather business information
- Construct the Brand Architecture matrix document under guidance from MARION.
3) Prepare Your Marketing and Advertising Department for the Process–
MARION suggests that we present an overview of the brand management process to your advertising and marketing group so that the final goals can be agreed upon, responsibilities clearly defined and focus maintained.
In addition, we recommend that we establish a common brand management vocabulary so that your Marketing and Advertising Department and MARION can communicate with fewer misunderstandings, and more importantly, help communicate and reinforce key brand management principles throughout the rest of the company as we proceed with the project. Some concepts to understand:
- Brand Equity or Value
- Brand Image
- Brand Associations
- Brand Positioning
- Brand Essence
- Brand Promise
- Brand Personality
- Brand Identity
- Brand Portfolio
- Brand Architecture
- Trade Dress
- Brand Extension
- Brand Management Process
This effort can also provide material to start your Brand Management Manual.
- MARION to prepare a Brand Management Seminar for your Marketing and Advertising department.
- Define the roles and duties of the Brand Management research team and those of MARION. Consider this a “kick-off” meeting
for the project.
- You can start the preparation of a Brand Management Manual. MARION can provide text and editing. You can produce electronically and create associated graphs and imagery.
Ensure Your Final Brand Management and Equity Plan Will be Implemented (Part 1)
Without senior management and key employee buy-in, your final brand management and equity building plan will just collect dust.
One of the most difficult tasks in brand management is transforming the organization from a low level of brand management to one that embraces it and actively builds the brand as an important source of sustainable competitive advantage. Support for such a transformation has to start with senior management. This is true for b-to-b businesses, and especially true for manufacturers.
Why this difficulty? The key to success for brand building is the effective delivery of the brand promise - the promise of a relevant, compelling and differentiating benefit to the target customers that is delivered at each point of contact with customers - from the executive who visits important customers, to sales people, customer service, advertising, public relations, the internet, etc. Only the support of senior management can make this kind of cultural evolution happen.
Therefore, it is critical to gauge the current temperature for support and to get buy-in of a Brand Management and Equity Building Plan with senior management. You need to identify any potential obstacles early to assuage any concerns they may have and in order to take corrective action. Also, the full scope of the benefits of brand building must be understood and appreciated:
- Increased revenues and market share in Mexico, USA and Canada
- Decreased price sensitivity
- Increased customer loyalty
- Additional leverage with retailers and end-user customers
- Increased profitability
- Increased company equity
- Increased clarity of vision
- Increased ability to mobilize all employees and focus activities
- Increased ability to expand into new product and service categories
- Increased ability to attract and retain high quality employees