Who should be responsible for creating all of the branding for my new business? I’ve been wondering whether to get an external agency in to help me with this but should it come from me?
There is no doubt that you must assume full responsibility for all aspects of your new business that collectively constitutes the brand value that you are offering your customers.
However, are you confusing issues of advertising and promotion with the job of building a brand identity? Let’s take it in steps to see the difference.
Firstly, you are the owner and generator of the brand identity – the core rationale for customers to come back and become active purchasers of your products and services.
This means that you have done the hard yards of producing a business and marketing plan, raised the initial capital and established your niche in the market place.
You have presumably taken out a business name for the company, set out the range of products and/or services that you know are needed by your customers and worked out your place, price, product and finally your promotion program.
Now you are ready to ask your original question in another way. Given that you want to do more than run a small business, who can help you to convert prime prospects into loyal advocates and generate value that creates a brand identity? This is more than a product name or a nice logo – it is the very essence of brand generation.
Clearly your management team is the starting point in converting your business name into a memorable and cut-through purchase pathway – they can help you to determine what business you are really in and what it is that you do better than your competitors.
Next you will want to convert that name into a “brand” proposition – a clear statement of what makes you stand out from the crowd – do you have a unique selling proposition, a leading edge sales offer or something special that will help your customers talk up your business?
You will need the help of your accountant and solicitor to ensure that you have taken out trademarks, patents and intellectual property protection for the core ideas of your business and established designs that effectively communicate your special offer. You need to avoid acronyms or names that other companies may see as infringing their rights.
At this point you become ready to consider the implementation of your marketing plan – who are the people who are in your target market, what are they looking for that your competitors don’t deliver, where and when will customers be attracted to your brand name and how will they learn what is on offer?
That may lead you to consider working with a marketing consultant and/or an advertising agency that can help you shift your business name into a “brand equity” position by converting your growing brand reputation into a favourable message – through purchase of effective brand advertising and commercial links with downstream distributors and business partners.
Finally, it comes down to finding business partners who can share in the growth of your brand proposition, providing you with the funds to move beyond your home base to carve out a creative and cost-effective market share that adds lifetime value to your business.
It all comes down to your ability to add value to each stage of the production process and convince customers that you offer benefits that make them love what you are doing and they are buying.
Have a look at Scott Bedbury’s book A New Brand World. Scott helped Nike and Starbucks to become recognised brand names.
He says in the book: “the most successful brands consistently evoke positive feelings over time. With each new product, service or marketing campaign the brand is refreshed and recharged.
“Great brands do this around a core theme or idea and draw each new product or service into its narrative as another engaging, relevant new chapter in a story that, like a great piece of mythology, can never be completely told.
But they do all this with the customer, not the company, as the story’s main protagonist. To do this requires that the company change the way it looks at the marketing universe.”
So in the end it comes down to accepting the responsibility for finding the right people to take you into this universe, but remember that the customer always retains the brand value while you own the company that delivers on the promise made by that brand.
Getting an agency provides you with access to skilled support but only you can be sure that your name represents the contribution that is your unique signature in the market place.