When my youngest daughter became a teenager, she proclaimed, “I want the freedom to make my own mistakes.”
“Well,” my wife and I offered, “if we could show you–from our years of life experiences–how to avoid mistakes, wouldn’t that be helpful?” Being a teenager, this didn’t quite sink in, but in my experience helping companies develop brand strategies, maybe I can impart some lessons that I’ve learned and help you avoid some common pitfalls.
Lesson 1: Success is in the process itself
So have one! While the results of the branding process are not predictable, the branding exercise can be. So have a plan. Before embarking on the journey to review, audit, or reshape your organizations’ brand, build a process that management or other stakeholders can sign off on. Once you have an approved charter, you can proceed in the knowledge that you and your branding team will be following a “blessed” road map making your destination assured.
If you engage a branding agency or consultant, ask to see their process first. While there are no right and wrong processes, the lack of a plan will certainly have you wandering in the wilderness instead of celebrating your results.
Lesson 2: Build a solid team
You’ve heard it before: get the right people on the bus. When selecting members for your branding team, your decision will often depend on the size of your company and the depth and breadth of their experience. In larger organizations, branding efforts are typically led by the marketing department, but this certainly doesn’t mean the team should be populated with only marketing types. You’ll often get more holistic results by engaging a cross-functional team including “front-liners”–staff with customer contact. Keep the team small: six to nine members should be plenty
Make sure your team members can commit to the time and effort necessary to participate and contribute in a meaningful way. Developing a brand strategy is typically a several-months process, but it could be one of your company’s most mission-critical initiatives.