By Brad Flowers
I fell for a clickbait article. The title was something like “The One Thing You Can Do to Improve Your Health in Your 40s.” I was a little embarrassed at first. But it was actually pretty good.
The premise is that regular exercise creates a virtuous cycle. It raises your metabolism, which helps you control your weight, decreases risk of heart disease, and decreases risk of some cancers. It strengthens your bones and muscles. Exercise helps moderate symptoms of depression, improves cognitive functioning, and boosts energy levels. It is one activity that causes cascading positive outcomes.
Branding has a similar effect on your business. It is an investment in the culture of your organization that has cascading positive outcomes.
From exploratory to momentum
An effective branding process starts with talking about your brand to the people in your company. This in itself is energizing. Your employees and coworkers get the opportunity to say what they love about your company. They say why they wanted to work there in the first place. They also explain where there is room for improvement. And the process provides hope that these concerns will be addressed.
Your marketing partner will conduct their own research concurrently with the exploratory meetings. They analyze your competitors. What do they do well, poorly? They look at other brands your customers are likely to interact with. What do they look like? How do they talk?
They get excited about the project. They can visualize your place in your industry and how you can more clearly show who you are to potential employees and clients.
Their excitement combined with your passion for your business creates a palpable sense of momentum. This momentum is important, but isn’t fully realized until the next phase.
Strategy leads to confidence
Next, your marketing partner presents findings from their research and exploratory steps. They present who they think you are in terms of values and tones of voice. They articulate what you hope to accomplish with this effort: You are trying to stand out, fit in, or carve an entirely new niche.
This results in a strategy they use to make good aesthetic decisions. Maybe everyone in your industry is green, so they are going to explore a different palette. Or your employees are bought-in to the color red, so they recommend only tweaking it slightly, but not changing it. The people answering the phone say no one can pronounce your name, so they suggest a change. Every decision reinforces who you are and where you are going.
Those strategic agreements are the foundation for confidence. Most people don’t know how to make decisions based around colors or typography. Having an agreed upon strategy builds that framework for providing feedback during the concept phase.
Launching tangible benefits
The concept is where momentum and confidence crystallize. Your marketing partner has established who you are with an articulation of values and tone. They have looked at your landscape. And, now the transformation becomes real. You have a visual identity and language system that accurately represents your organization. You imagine yourself as this better version of yourself. Like getting a new suit. Driving a new car. Except this isn’t decoration. This really is you and it feels great.
This is where you realize some of the work you have put in. Your employees are more engaged. They treat your clients better, and they are more likely to tell their friends about your company. Your more engaged employees put in the extra time and effort to make your product better. This better product is valuable to your clients, leading to higher satisfaction.
Also, your employees have more pride in their work. They stay longer, reducing the cost of finding, training and retaining new people. They tell their friends about their work, giving you a solid pool of candidates when you need to hire.
To make it more tangible: Your website better represents you when you aren’t there. Your social media sounds like it comes from the same place. The sales team has new marketing materials that better represent them. The tool is better, which makes the salesperson better, which helps the business close more deals. With more closed deals, you have more cash to hire better people who represent you – who again provide a better service to your client. All of this leaving you with more time to do what you do best.
It is a virtuous cycle.
Brad Flowers is partner in Bullhorn Creative, a full-service marketing agency with offices in Lexington and Washington, D.C.