From The MARION Advertising Agency, Graphic Design And Marketing Firm
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
- 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 youin 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 can assess current practices and then guide you in implementation
Brand Building On the Internet
When executed effectively, websites are effective at building brand differentiation, accessibility and loyalty, assisting existing customers and generating new customers.
MARION will provide an evaluation of your website and suggestions for improvement with respect to:
- Meeting the current objectives of your website
- Where you stand with respect to your competitors (traffic, length of visits, incoming links, web presence, rankings on search engines, etc.)
- Driving desired actions from users
- Providing a true brand experience
- Creating an engaging, interactive, informative and helpful customer experience
- Creating an opportunity to expand customer relationship
- Appealing to multiple customer segments
- Providing detailed information about products – more than typically available offline
- Generating leads
- Performance metrics
- Navigation structure
- Additional Internet marketing opportunities
Measuring Success of a Brand Equity Plan
Moving the customer from brand awareness to brand insistence will reflect the growth of brand value.
Factors influencing brand insistence:
- Relevant Differentiation
- Emotional Connection
- Decreased price sensitivity
- Increased customer loyalty
- Increased flexibility for growth
- Increased market share
- Increased company value
- MARION will help you set up a methodology for monitoring brand value.
Ensure Your Final Brand Management and Equity Plan Will be Implemented (Part 2)
Throughout the whole Brand Management review process, it is important to keep senior management up-to-date and engaged. At the end of the process, MARION will assist you with a final report on all findings, vision, goals and specific tasks for the Marketing and Advertising department and the company as a whole. Marketing and Advertising can then present this final report to Senior Management and seek their approval and support for implementation. Developing a brand management plan and building brand equity, is complicated task, but not that difficult. It requires a methodical and focused team, and a company ready to take a giant step to preserve what it has achieved and to reach even higher.
For assistance with developing a brand management plan and an ongoing plan to build and measure brand equity, please call MARION at 713.623.6444 or use the Contact Form on this page.
Market Research and Developing Your Marketing Plan
With Market Research, MARION Integrated Marketing can help you determine your customers’ needs for your products or services, and with a Marketing Plan, we can help you satisfy those needs with the right Marketing Mix – the right messaging, in the right media.
To determine your customer needs, MARION market research will provide current and relevant market intelligence, including:
- Customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your products or services.
- Opportunities for new products or services.
- Trends that could affect your company sales and profitability:
- Population shifts.
- Legal developments.
- Local and national situations that could create problems and opportunities.
- What your competitors are doing.
MARION can assist you with market surveys, customer focus groups, researching published reports and statistical information, and interviewing industry experts.
Once we have gathered and analyzed all this market research information, MARION will help you determine your competitive advantages and express your superior benefits to customers through an aggressive Marketing Plan.
Your marketing plan identifies groups or segments of customers that you can better serve than your competitors, and tailors your product and service offerings, prices, distribution, promotional efforts, and services toward those particular segments.
There are two common methods generally used to segment a market:
Geographical targeting – Focuses on serving customer needs in a narrow geographical area (e.g. targeting a neighborhood as nail salons, beauty shop, convenience store, family practice physician, realtors, etc.).
Customer targeting – Focuses on those groups of customers most likely to buy the product or service no matter where they are located (e.g. national or even global targeting such as industrial supply distributors, manufacturers, online retailers, packaging supply, etc.)
Ideally, your marketing plan addresses unmet customer needs that have the potential to generate satisfactory profitability for you. A good marketing plan focuses on those target customers that your company can best serve.
The marketing plan also describes the corporate identity and image you wish to have as you build your brand over time. Your logo, taglines, corporate stationary, marketing message, sales literature, website, Internet Marketing activities, individual promotional pieces and public relations activities all contribute to your corporate image as you build your brand.
The Marketing Mix
Managing the Marketing Mix
Determine how best to satisfy customer needs by formulating the correct marketing mix:
Products and Services: Are you concentrating on a narrow product line? Are you developing a highly specialized product or service? Are you providing a product-service package containing unusually high-quality service?
Marketing Promotions: In our “massively connected” society, successful promotional strategies embrace multiple media, both online and offline, including a website (now a necessity), corporate capabilities brochure, direct mail, email campaigns, tradeshows and public relations events. All promotions should reflect your corporate identity, be consistent and on message as you grow your brand.
Keep in mind too that all company policies and activities should be directed toward satisfying customer needs – perhaps the most critical piece of sustaining a healthy corporate identity and brand.
Distribution Channels: If you are a manufacturer or wholesaler, you must decide how to distribute through established distributors or agents. Retailers consider cost and traffic flow in store location; remember that a low-cost, low-traffic site means more must be spent on traffic-building advertising.
Pricing: Getting the price right is critical for maximizing revenue.In general, higher prices mean lower volume; lower pricing means higher volume. Personalized service can often command higher prices. Also, having a profitable sales volume is more important than having a high sales volume.
Measure Your Performance
After executing a marketing promotion, successful companies periodically evaluate their success and look for ways to improve performance. Other issues to consider:
- Is your company doing all it can to be customer-oriented?
- Are your customers satisfied and leave wanting to return?
- Can customers find competitive pricing easily?
Analyze and act.
Growing Your Corporate Image and Corporate Identity
At the root of your corporate image and corporate identity is your logo, your symbol to the world of what your company stands for. When your customers see your logo, they are reminded of all their experiences with your company; what they have seen, read, heard and felt about your company. It is critical then that your logo reflects the nature and spirit of your company in a positive way, from the moment your logo leaves the drawing board and enters the marketplace. As your brand grows, your logo reflects your identity.
To grow your brand in a healthy way, always include your logo and the other aspects of your corporate design – colors, tagline, graphical elements – in all your communications, in all media. Your marketing communications messages and value proposition must be consistent in all media. These consistent visual and verbal representations of your company in print, on the Internet, video and multimedia will nourish your brand and nurture your corporate identity.
Elements of Corporate Image and Identity
Your website reflects your corporate identity online. Persuasive content, graphics, and navigation all work in harmony to make your site a standout success.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization Search engine optimization gets your site ranking high on search engines and your corporate identity found on the web.
Enhance your brand, record events, facilitate training, instruct for safety and promote your products and services with corporate video productions.
Following marketing research, MARION Integrated Marketing can help you determine your customers’ needs and with a marketing plan, attract and retain more and more satisfied customers to grow your business.
Internet Marketing boosts your online corporate identity. Spread your brand across search engines, raise your brand visibility and increase traffic to your site.
3D animations add dimension and life to your corporate identity.
A great tool to impress your customers by creating animated images of a proposed reality.
Your corporate capabilities brochure expresses your corporate identity in print. Solidify your brand with great graphics and persuasive, to-the-point text.
3D Graphic Design
3D Graphic Designs and illustrations add dimension to your corporate identity. A great tool to impress your customers by creating images of a proposed reality.
Media relations, community relations, public affairs, crisis communications, issue management, and public speaking all impact your corporate identity.
Logo design is at the root of building your corporate identity, image and brand. Your customers associate the qualities of your company with your logo.
MARION offers services in support of your brand management practices and developing a strong brand building methodology We can teach and guide, or provide turnkey services.