Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Break Though with Your Brand

Do you really know your brand?
by Lil Mogul
After months in development, the new product is ready for worldwide launch. The product manager or (imagine, company owner or president) tells the creative team to use a picture of a globe. "But our brand is about what we do for people. Our brand guidelines specify images of humanity," the designer pleads. "I don't care. Use the globe," the product manager demands.

Unfortunately, there's always the need to balance business objectives with branding goals. "It's not that product managers ignore branding. They don't understand how to leverage it." There are good reasons why some product managers and company owners misunderstand branding and its value. Managers are trained to show quick results, manage expenses, think in the short term and owners too. The career timetable of many in middle management can be the opposite of the time required to build a corporate brand. The full equity of a brand takes years to realize; a middle manager and owners measures success in quarters.

Rather than be an obstacle to quarterly success, a carefully managed brand can be a long-term solution to short-term challenges. According to the VP of the database company, her solution is brand education. "Once they get it, they develop stronger value propositions and products because they are leveraging the full power of what the brand has built."
A better understanding of how the brand translates to business can make a difference in behavior.

Brand training that goes beyond communications is key to helping middle managers and owners understanding the economic value of supporting their brand. A strong commitment to branding on the part of the company can often eliminate individual agendas. Believing in the brand, following the guidelines and understanding the brand's role as a tool to achieve business objectives can help break through the bottleneck.

Here's a few tips to make your brand work to get your products to market faster, on budget, and beat the competition.

See branding as an investment and marketing as an expense.
Every dollar that's ever been spent on the brand adds leverageble equity to help launch new products, or associate brands with the parent company.

Follow brand standards to speed up success.
Guidelines help keep the creative process on track, which eliminates wasted time pursuing ideas that aren't "on brand."

Build the brand, don't erode it.
Launching a new brand without following corporate branding may solve immediate issues, but over time -even a short time- it can erode positive associations or create negative ones. Get the job done AND build the brand.

Celebrate the organization, not the individual.
Like the bricklayer who can point to a completed skyscraper and tell his child he built the building, you are contributing to the overall success of the company when you stay on brand.

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