Last week, in Part One of this two-part series, I discussed one of the most fundamental aspects of marketing your business: creating your brand. If you haven’t read Part One yet, I recommend you do so now, as this next part is all about introducing your brand to the market.
Here’s a brief review of the fundamentals of branding:
A brand is a set of visual cues and written elements that uniquely identify an organization. There can be several components to your brand – here are some of the most basic:
- The company’s name
- A tagline
- Brand Colors
Recently, additional elements have been associated with an organization’s brand, such as:
- Mission Statement
- Vision Statement
- Core Values
- Core Talkable Differences (Key Differentiators)
Typically, all of these elements are compiled together into a single document called a Brand Book. This document is used by creative and marketing professionals to maintain consistency when representing the organization.
Your Brand Rollout
Phase 1 – Planning
Planning your Brand Book is as important as the contents of the Brand Book itself. Be creative with the elements of your brand, but be specific and detailed with your rollout plan. We’ve developed a Five-Step Plan to get you started on your Brand Book and prepare for a successful rollout:
Clearly identify the scope of your branding project.
Scope is critical. This is where you identify which elements are going to be incorporated into your Brand Book. Some of the steps below will help clarify this decision, such as budget and deadline. For example, you may decide to forego a Tagline and Vision Statement for the sake of a less time-consuming project. Whatever you decide you want your scope to be, decide it in advance.
Set a clear, realistic deadline to complete your branding project.
For most small businesses, 2 to 3 months is a realistic timeframe to complete a project like this. Bear in mind that, completing a Brand Book precedes all other sales & marketing plans. Set aside enough time to get it done right, but not so much time that it holds up other fundamental developments for your company.
Set a budget.
our budget will determine what sort of people you can enlist to help you complete the project. For most small businesses, branding projects can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000, depending on the size of the company, scope of the project, and type of help you’re using. For example, an agency may be more expensive than a freelancer, which in turn is more costly than offshoring.
If that budget doesn’t work with your current cash flow, consider doing some of the work yourself. There are plenty of free tools and guides available on the web to quickly get the basics down. You can then revisit other elements when funds allow it. A local marketing agency’s help is not only less expensive than you probably realize, but will save you money down the line by preventing costly branding mistakes.
Decide on who will be a part of the project.
This is a critical step is one that’s most often overlooked. The people you invite to be part of the project will define your brand, so be selective and strategic with your choice. Invitees could include:
- Past clients
- Operations managers
- Sales managers
- Marketing managers
- Industry experts
- Hired freelancers
- Select employees
Collect a diverse set of opinions representative of your entire organization (not just the owner, but ownership is typically required), but avoid having too many people in the conversation to keep things on schedule.
Step 5: Set a weekly hour-long meeting for a branding workshop. This is what keeps your project on budget and on schedule as it keeps each member of the team accountable.
Phase II – Execution
This phase revolves around Step 5, discussed above. This Phase is a bit harder to discuss in detail in a blog post, since the specifics of execution depend on the scope, budget and people involved in the project. For example, my team looks at executing a Mission Statement in a different way than executing on a logo. If you’d like to ask any specific questions about how we execute on any given element, email us at email@example.com
With that in mind, here’s how we conduct our weekly branding workshop meetings. Each meeting should be an hour in length and focus on one particular topic: the vision statement, mission statement, value proposition, whatever you decide.
Spend the first thirty minutes discussing the topic, the next 20 minutes forming the deliverable or key takeaways, and the final 10 minutes reviewing and making final adjustments. At the end of the meeting, record the finished statement or key takeaways in a document that will serve as the prototype for your Brand Book. This is not a finished document, but a means to get an initial starting point that can be refined into a final draft.
Some deliverables, especially visual ones like logos and business cards, are more apt to be reviewed over multiple sessions. Keep it brief, don’t over-think and remain within your project deadline.
Finally, remember to set a timer for one hour and refer to it frequently during the meeting. This not only ensures the meeting ends on time, but gives you a time frame by which you can move the discussion along and keep topics relevant.
Phase III – Rollout
Once your prototype Brand Book is complete, take a couple of weekly branding sessions to review and make adjustments where you and the team sees fit. Again, don’t let perfection get in the way of professionalism, or you could find yourself going over budget quickly.
When you’re ready, set a date to transition to your new brand. This is the Rollout, and you’ll want to accomplish it as swiftly and decisively as possible. Common things to update in the Rollout include:
- Your website
- Social media pages
- Print collateral such as business cards or letterhead.
- Email signatures
If you have employees, schedule a meeting with them before the Rollout date to review the updated look and feel of your organization. This is particularly helpful when you’ve included some employees as a part of your branding process. This will build a sense of pride and a commonly-shared identity between your employees and the company.
Finally, communicate the change to your current, prospective, and past clients. Clients see this as a time to celebrate a new positive change for your company and will be delighted to share the experience with you.
Planning and executing the rollout or your Brand Book is an exciting and critical time for any business. Done properly, it’s the springboard to the next level of recognition and identity that successful companies need. If you’re looking for assistance or ideas for your Brand Book, or with any part of your marketing plan, call us at 919-335-3182 or click here to schedule a free consultation.