What is a brand investment?
Companies focused on continuous growth constantly invest in themselves in infrastructure, staff, product development, marketing & branding.
Branding can be difficult to get full support and buy-in from senior management. An IT director can propose purchasing new hardware and software and explain how it will benefit the business in terms of efficiency, compliance or security.
But a similar-sized investment in branding can be a tougher sell as its benefits are slightly harder to quantify over the same period.
But what about smaller companies and entrepreneurs?
Start as you mean to go on.
For brands that are just starting or looking to focus on growth, then there is no better time to invest in your branding than now. If your brand strategy is ingrained as early as possible, the greater the results, start-ups have the opportunity to get this right from day one.
A brand strategy is not an option. It is a business-critical asset that needs the recognition and support it deserves. A well-defined branding strategy offers insight and understanding of the market you operate in, the position you and your competitors hold, and the needs and wants of your customer base.
How you respond to this information will guide your marketing strategy, how you engage with your customers, and how your suppliers value you. Without this, your business has its work cut out to overcome all these issues quickly and efficiently.
If I haven’t already got a brand strategy, is it too late to invest?
It is never too late to invest in your brand. A company’s products go through a well-documented product life cycle with their introduction, growth, maturity and then decline. Still, successful brands will always find a way to avoid (or constantly delay) the decline phase.
If you feel like your branding is not working as it should, then it should be reviewed, corrected and monitored to ensure your investment is getting the returns it deserves.
How can you check if your brand strategy is working?
Measuring the effectiveness of your brand should be part of your brand strategy, as you need to be able to justify the investment and prove the case for ongoing support.
If you are unsure where your brand currently stands, then a brand audit would help you establish the where what and why’s that you are after.
An audit can be done internally by branding or marketing staff but on the understanding that everything is critically examined and challenged. It is too easy to presume that messages are clear and understood or that certain stakeholders feel a particular way.
[Images of workshop/Toast talking to clients]
If you use an external resource such as a consultant or branding agency, then by their very nature, they will offer an unbiased and honest appraisal. An external perspective can often see fresh opportunities and challenge the status quo. A branding audit should be seen as much about what we can improve as it is about successful ground made, what investments worked and where more can be applied.
Important Note: Do not get defensive about any findings; any issues found should be seen as indispensable feedback on how to improve your brand and not as faults.
How do I apply what I have found?
Data and information are great but may become useless if not acted upon and applied going forward. If your audit has discovered that your brand is not in the position that you would have hoped or is not received by a certain audience as you would like, then this has to be addressed.
The best way is through the creation or amending of existing brand guidelines.
A professionally created set of brand guidelines not only cover the fundamental instructions for the recreation of the logo, corporate colour palette and choosing fonts, but it is also an essential toolkit for anyone wanting to apply your brand to any form of communication, whether internal or external facing.
To illustrate the point.
A great example that Toast was involved in was creating a brand book for the Elton John AIDS foundation.
We did not create the original logo & identity. Still, we were engaged by their head of branding & communications after they experienced challenges in how their brand was being applied by third-party groups such as sponsors and events.
The brand book we created not only covered the essential building blocks of the brand, such as logo, font and colours but embodied how the brand should be applied and presented.
This meant that instead of the book becoming a dry set of technical guidelines, it became a bold and vibrant example of the power of the brand.
Since the creation of the guidelines, there has been a significant improvement in not only how the brand is applied but in understanding what the brand stands for and says.
So, where do I start?
If you have searched and found this blog, then you already have. You are looking to invest in your brand and ensure it becomes the best it can be.
You may be concerned that your brand is not currently offering the returns it should, and you want some help identifying what is working and what could work harder.
Here at Toast, we wouldn’t suggest any course of action until we know your current situation and where you want to be.
As with most projects like this, it starts with a quick conversation to understand your challenge, and we can then provide you with a proposal on how we would go about helping.