Building a brand – the fundamentals of communications
So, it’s done. Your killer technology is built and ready to change the world. You understand it completely. You understand the effect it will have on your industry and markets, and you even understand the pain points your potential clients face. Now it’s time to start talking about it. But, are you really ready?
Firstly, it’s important to realise that ‘communications’ means much more now than it did a decade ago. Potential customers aren’t solely looking at your product marketing, they’re investigating you. They’re looking at your website and social channels and want to understand your history and expertise. In many cases, they may also want to know what you stand for, particularly if they have their own ESG or sustainability requirements. Even though media will never cease to be a crucial marketing channel, simply trying to market a product on its own is no longer enough.
This is where your brand comes into play. A brand is so much more than fancy logos or spectacular marketing stunts. Your brand character should permeate everything you do, creating a real understanding and cohesion in your communications, both internal and external. It should form the foundation of all your work and really represent you and the company you aspire to be. But, where to start?
Well, start at the beginning. Take the time to speak to your employees, senior management and any other stakeholders to get a sense of how they perceive your brand and what they would like you to be. This should be the cornerstone of your brand-building. It might not always be easy to hear, but without this valuable input, as well as a solid understanding of your competitive landscape, anything you do may end up being flawed from the very start. Combining this feedback with your own sense of who you want to be will allow you to really start creating all the key elements of your brand.
These elements will form the foundations and building blocks of your communications programs and your company’s future. Once you know who you are, you can think about how you talk about yourself and create the right messaging and tone. Communications must be coherent, consistent and cohesive. Without a proper brand character, messages can be confusing and, in the worst cases, contradictory. Different spokespeople may talk about different elements, and sales teams may sing from a completely separate hymn sheet to your engineers. It’s even more critical when you expand globally and different offices/regions promote different messages– allowing for local flavour. Having the right brand character, messaging and tone from the outset and evolving them regularly will keep these disparate elements aligned. This can become even more important if you carry out an acquisition and need to onboard and/or integrate new people.
Of course, there are other elements to consider. What does your brand look like? How does it make people feel? Does it engage your employees and drive talent acquisition and retention? How can you create an easily recognisable and trustworthy mark that immediately sets the tone and paves the way for your products and services to be successful? These factors are often overlooked as part of communications but when people know what you do and what you stand for, they are likely already inclined to work with you. On the other hand, if they’ve never heard of you or are confused about what you do, they may not even bother taking your call. After all, time is money – and neither can be wasted.
Of course, not all communications have to wait for the branding work to be completed, signed and delivered. There is always other work to be done. Building a buzz is important and should complement the work being done to create your identity. In fact, in many cases, a company that has grown quickly and has already created a solid media and marketing presence may find that buzz and industry perception to be what shapes its brand identity. However, now may be the time to formalise the branding to plan the next phase of the business, or adapt to a new normal. There’s never a wrong time for self-reflection and revision!
We’ve entered a new era of communications. It’s no longer just about what you do, it’s about who you are. Building the right brand character and ensuring consistency in everything you say and do is crucial to being a part of the conversations that matter.
Learn how Paragon can help establish your brand fundamentals, gain exposure with your target audience and build your reputation. Contact us today.