The 5 Steps to Building a Stronger Brand
“Whoever yells the loudest …” used to be the marketing mantra. Today, printers know it’s not about the noise, it’s about delivering a consistent, credible message.
According to Dr. Robert D. Winsor, professor of Marketing at Loyola Marymount University, “Branding is the most important thing a business can do.” So how do you create a strong brand that’s believable and achievable?
The power of a strong brand is its ability to focus attention. As a printer, you can start by defining your target audience and focus on being relevant to that market. This often means narrowing down your target market quite a bit. According to John Paul Carr from Solo Printing, “Branding may get brushed off as ‘fluffy’ or inconsequential, but building a real connection with a market and having a great understanding of [it] is critical.”
To build a strong brand, your message has to capture the audience’s attention. In our industry, the latest buzz is about shifting from being a printing services provider to a marketing services provider. For sure, our industry is morphing from a commodity sell to a sell that’s customer solutions-oriented. The term “solutions selling” was invented 35 years ago, but the concept is even more critical today.
According to Chris Clemens, president of Reflections, Inc., “Branding has been at the heart and soul of Reflections since its inception.” Over the past five years, Reflections has been expanding beyond print. According to Chris, the brand they have developed has helped in the start up of their Creative and Design Division. “Because our brand has always been creative and fun, I think our clients believe and accept (this new division) as a natural step and direction for us.”
Five steps for creating & growing your brand
Most of us have heard that brands have to be relevant, authentic and differentiated, and that brand management should be part of everyone’s job. Here are five steps to putting a solid brand strategy into action:
1. Define yourself by the markets you serve: Who is your market? These are four words that seem easy to answer, but this may be the most difficult question you have to ask yourself. Forcing yourself to concentrate on a specific piece of the market you can claim for your own will give your brand a unique identity.
2. Think benefits instead of features: Let’s assume your core market is colleges and universities. They’re dealing with shrinking revenues and higher costs … but they’re also dealing with massive increases in applications — the average number of colleges a student now applies to has more than doubled over the past year. Is there a way, via variable data technologies, that you can help schools manage this issue? Focus on the benefits they can achieve through your solutions.
3. Show and tell your story: Leverage your capabilities. Don’t just talk about what you can do, show. When you talk about the high quality of digital printing, focus your audience’s attention with samples that are beautifully printed on fine paper. When you talk about variable data capabilities, show a case study with real-life examples within the client’s market arena. Take advantage of self-promotion to establish credibility.
4. Stay strong on message, with unwavering consistency: Always integrate your brand strategies at every point of contact, every piece you produce, every message, every time.
5. Build relationships: Find out where your audience goes for information — and be there. Use surveys, social networks and community forums can to collect customer data and build relationships. Listen, ask and answer. Providing suggestions and advice helps reinforce trust and builds credibility.
Branding can’t save a terrible product. But a strong brand is invaluable. It’s the foundation — and the sum — of all your marketing efforts.
Tips for Making your Brand Stronger:
A strong brand is about focusing attention. You need to focus on the kind of prospects you know best. When you do, it focuses customers and prospects on your brand.
Remember the 5 steps to building a strong brand:
- Define yourself by your markets.
- Think benefits over features.
- Show and tell your story.
- Stay on message, consistently.
- Build relationships.