A brand is much more than your logo and colour palette. It’s the emotional and rational perception that lives in the hearts and minds of your customers. It’s expressed in the way you answer the phone, what your vehicles look like, your email signature…and every other touchpoint between you and your audience. And good brands don’t stand still, they evolve to stay aligned with the ever-changing needs and wants of customers.
When you’re putting your annual marketing plan together, the information, insights and ideas you gather can help you strengthen your brand. Here’s how:
1. You’ll see your customers as individual people and you can develop the tone of voice that they want to hear. A marketing plan requires you to describe your target audiences. This description is easier if you create personas for each of your main customer groups. Once you have those personas, you can see your brand through their eyes. If you decide to invest in research before you write up the personas, you can include questions that relate directly to your current brand assets.
2. Customer journeys help you to understand how your customers experience your brand. When you map the entire brand experience for each persona, from first contact through to transaction, you will identify brand weaknesses and strengths. For example, you may discover a less-then-perfect call centre experience or an ambiguously-worded email that you can fix for your customers’ benefit.
3. You can choose a strategy that is compatible with your brand. Your marketing activities need to marry up with how your brand is perceived by your customers. A mismatch would be running a Facebook campaign for a product that’s mostly aimed at middle-aged men who aren’t heavy Facebook users. A smarter match might be digital display advertising on a relevant news website, such as Stuff.
4. You can review your brand in the context of your competitors. Your marketing plan will contain your main competitors. As an extension to this exercise, consider comparing their brand assets with yours. Do you stand out for the right reasons? Maybe it’s time for refresh to modernise and make yourself more relevant with a new logo, new tone of voice, new collateral.
5. Customer insights can help you create a meaningful brand story. A brand story is essentially the ‘why’ pitch for your brand and should share the emotional aspects of why the brand exists and what you want customers to feel about it – so they can relate to you and you can build a connection with them. In its longest form, your brand story will live on the ‘About’ page of your website.
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