Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Every company, including yours, needs a brand platform to establish the brand and guide all branding and marketing decisions. There are many reasons why your brand plays a role in overall company success. You may be asking, what is a brand platform? For marketers, the brand platform is the foundation for every piece of brand communications executed, thus making it a very important responsibility. Before implementing any marketing programs, marketing execs need to be completely confident in their brand platform and its elements.
Nothing should ever be implemented before you establish what you plan to achieve. Without SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-specific) objectives, it’s not possible to prove whether or not you’ve been successful. Even if you increase sales by 15%, the response becomes, “so what?” if you weren’t clear that an increase in sales was the objective from the beginning. You need a business objective, marketing objective, and brand objective to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page.
- Interview Insights:
It’s important to interview key stakeholders before defining your brand platform. Different people have unique perspectives based on his or her department, experience, talents, and other factors.
- SWOT Analysis:
You know the routine: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This is important to know because it impacts how you will position the brand, your messaging, and how your company fits in the competitive landscape.
- Target Audience:
Your target audience is who you plan to reach with your communications. This should be based on market and consumer research to ensure that you are targeting the right people who are likely to be interested in purchasing your product or service.
Your vision is aspirational – it communicates what you hope to achieve as a company and paints a picture of what company success will look like. A vision statement communicates the role the organization stands to play in the industry and reflects the goals and priorities expressed in a company’s strategic plan. The basics of creating brand communication involves: creating a vision, an elevator pitch, and a 10 minute presentation.
Your mission says what your company hopes to accomplish. Kevin Starr, executive director of the Mulago Foundation advises companies to follow the format of “Verb, target, outcome,” for simple, focused mission statements.
- Brand Promise:
The brand promise is a one-sentence statement of the largest value proposition the brand can credibly make to its audience. This provides a clear, easy-to-understand message of the overarching benefit the brand delivers and helps to organize and prioritize all other benefits.
How does your brand fit into the competitive landscape? How is it different than other brands? How do customers perceive the brand? Positioning your brand correctly could be the difference between being annihilated by the competition or finding the marketing sweet spot that allows your brand to be successful.
- Brand Tagline:
This is something that encapsulates your entire brand in a few words. The tagline is the most succinct thumbnail categorization of the brand’s business.
- Brand Pyramid:
What core values are important to your brand? These values should resonate with the target market. This is a list and description of the beliefs and ideals that guide the behaviors of the company and its employees. It helps to create a strong, cohesive culture, helps stakeholders to “live” the brand, and establish trust in the brand on behalf of customers and business partners. Benefits. If you’re selling a drill bit, what you’re really selling is the hole, not the piece of metal. Think about Apple’s “retina display.” The idea of a retina display alone means nothing unless you know how it will impact the screen display and how that will affect your digital experiences. If you know you will see television shows with unparalleled clarity, then it’s something that has appeal. Attributes. A list and description of 6-10 key attributes of the brand personality, together with information that details the source of these attributes in the founders’ histories, vision, and values.
- Key Messaging:
These are the important points that you will use to guide your marketing copy. What are the salient points that will resonate with your target audience, and how do you communicate them clearly and concisely.
- Brand Personality:
A tight, one-paragraph statement that describes the “soul” of the brand – the qualities and values that live at its core – and the experience of interacting with it. The brand personality summarizes the distinct impression that a brand should make, both visually and in written and spoken communications. The brand personality guides the development of a clear, well-integrated visual and written identity.
- Brand Voice:
We like to define the brand voice by using the template is/is never. The brand IS: real, approachable, friendly, fun, passionate, empathetic, understanding, genuine, authoritative, reliable, intelligent, confident, sincere etc. The brand IS NEVER: arrogant, insensitive, pretentious, snooty, diminutive, cold, unresponsive, brash, irritable, careless, crude, etc.
- Brand Value Proposition:
The brand value proposition lays out what value your customers will attain from purchasing your product or service. In the Harvard Business Review article “Value Propositions that Work,” Anthony K Tjan asserts: “there are only 4 types of consumer benefits that matter and by extension only four categories of value propositions that work”:
- Best quality
- Best bang for the buck
- Luxury and aspiration
A company’s brand platform is absolutely essential to marketing and communications success. Even if your company is already well-established, it’s a good idea to review your brand platform to ensure that everything still aligns with current company objectives. Build out your brand platform document using a template to outline each component. Read the 10 reasons why your company needs a brand strategy to learn about how branding affects your company’s success in a variety of ways, including employee morale and financial value.
The brand platform is extensive, and requires careful thinking, planning, research, and hard work. Many companies choose to seek the help of a branding agency, which can offer experience and expertise in building brand platforms. A branding agency can create a company’s brand platform in collaboration with a company’s marketing team to ensure that marketing communication activities are “on brand” and resonate with the company’s overall values and objectives.
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