Branding, brand marketing, soft, conceptual so on and so forth. From the reads I beg to differ. In the middle of the noisiest ecosystems of all time, our most powerful tool is, perhaps and continues to be, our ability to position ourselves beautifully. I mean yes, the personal branding.
Let’s keep ‘personal’ aside and focus on branding. Branding, whether you want to own it or not – every marketer is now expected to be a brand marketer. We have to understand how to position our products, differentiate our experiences, how to get them to the right people and leave them with a lasting impression. We must do all of this through our content, interfaces, design and our communities.
The most skipped step in brand marketing is doing your branding due diligence. Sadly, it is also the most important step. Without this, you could be setting yourself up for failure and a huge investment loss. Let’s not do that. No one likes losing money.
So What Is Branding Due Diligence?
It is a deep analysis of legal, industrial, competitive, operational and product brand risks that will affect your ability to build a successful brand and set it up for advantageous differentiation.
What that really means is, you have all the potential factors which can affect your brand concepts before you even start to design them.
Branding due diligence sets you up to launch a brand your market will love. So how do we do that? There are five areas you’ll want to explore. They are listed below.
Have you sat down with your legal team and talked through the legal risks, concerns and opportunities? This can include trademarks of slogans, imagery, excessive use of technical terms, etc. Is everything required, registered? Are you infringing on the existing trademarks? Cover yourself on this. Nothing is worse than creating something beautiful, shipping it, watching it succeed, only to learn – yeah, someone else owns that. #sad.
Have you discussed with your product and business development teams about industry trends, concerns and opportunities? Brand marketers are asked to build for the future. Brand marketers will have a concrete structure of the product/services. Brand marketers then associate with acquisition and development teams to build demand and direct that demand towards the product/services. This could include economical, technological and political trends, etc. Brand marketers hold a lot of responsibility here.
Have you truly understood your competitor brands, do you understand what all areas they have won, which areas they are concentrated now or what they wish to enter? Companies over focus on the features of the products they are shipping and underestimate the power of their competitor brand teams. They say the best brands in the world stands for a single word, for example Volvo = safety. Apple = design. If that is true, it is time to understand your competitors, what they stand for, as it can/will impact your brand too.
Have you mapped out how your brand will be managed, what internal risks, concerns, opportunities exist? Your brand is a gem. A real gem, which needs investment, budget, and support. Do you know who and how it will be supported? Inevitably, after the launch of your brand, you need to manage brand risks and problems. It could be a bad image in media, product malfunction or a community mistake. Whatever the issue maybe, much of your brand success will depend on how quickly and authentically you respond to it. This includes legal, design, product, tech and often operations support. You and your team should know this and be ready to react.
Have you sat down, brainstormed and documented feature areas your brand wants to own? Have you understood the risks and opportunities that exist? This is what most marketers think of when they think about “building a brand.” This is what is largely known as your What, How & Why, these days. (Thanks Joanna Lord!) and marketers obsess over this, which is great. It is only one piece of the diligence process though. You should spend quite a fortune digging in here – what makes you great, how do you do it better than anyone else and why should people care? I think brand marketers have a huge opportunity to contribute to the culture with this analysis and its findings. In many ways, this should set the game point for the entire company.
For the sake of not getting bored let me put this in a banner 😉
Okay. I know it is still boring, but it is super important. The world is growing more restless and noisier. Millennial and centennials are increasingly defined as the generation that is obsessed with self-identification, which means they want to find the brands that are them. Today’s brands need to know who they are and how to stand out, which requires more than a great idea for a brand. It requires diligence, process, and support. Go forth and brand…I can’t wait to see what you build. #buildbeautifulthings