As a Management Accounting Outram park, its very critical for you to understand developing brand strategy is extremely critical. The most important asset your company has is its brand. Quite simply, it drives the direction of your business. So you should definitely have a well thought out brand strategy in place.
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Brand Strategy - Brand Value - Brand Identity Guru
If you are entrepreneurial in nature owning a business is very exciting adventure. It can also be the most difficult thing for you to get into if you are not prepared.
What is a Brand? Put simply, it defines the identity of an organisation, product or service. It's more than just names and logos. The identity needs to be based on a unique idea and told through a compelling story. It needs to connect with potential customers and form positive emotional bonds. The idea needs to be distinctive from the competition and relevant to the target markets worldview. It also needs to be authentic, meaning that it's not enough to simply make empty claims. The organisation needs to actually live its brand.
Brands increase the value of products and services by differentiating them from the competition, creating positive mental associations and forming emotional relationships with the customer. Philip Kotler from the Kellogg School of Management famously said that "if you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low cost producer is the only winner."
Competing on price may increase short-term sales, but is a dangerous strategy for anyone serious about building a profitable, sustainable business. Brands provide businesses with the means to free themselves from constant price competition, increase the value of their services, reduce their marketing costs and develop long-term customer loyalty.
Building a successful, sustainable brand requires careful planning and consistency. It needs a strategy. Brand strategy is the plan that defines defines the ideas and stories behind the brands, the structure and relationship of the brands within the organisation and the core identifying elements. These can include elements such as company and product names, tone of voice, logo's, colour schemes etc. It also provides the framework for implementing the brands throughout the organisations operations and for using them to efficiently work towards the businesses goals. It's not just a cosmetic exercise; it's a key element of business strategy.
With a clear strategy in place, managers can make appropriate, co-ordinated, informed decisions not just in marketing, but in all departments from product development through to customer service and recruitment. This process of embodying the brand idea throughout the organisation is what we call branding.
The beauty of branding is that by telling your customers authentic, compelling stories, you not only make your goods more attractive and valuable, you give your customers something to talk about. Humans naturally love to tell and share stories. By giving them good stories to tell, you gain access to what is by far the cheapest and most effective form of promotion - word of mouth.
Few organisations manage to achieve the full benefits of word of mouth, and worse still, for many organisations it spreads more negative stories than positive. To compensate for a lack of positive word of mouth, organisations spend huge sums of money on ineffective marketing exercises. Without an effective brand strategy these exercises are often unfocussed, inconsistent and unauthentic. Consequently, they rarely pay for themselves, let alone make a profit.
So what is the role of marketing? To a large extent, branding is the antithesis of marketing. Branding is the most effective way of generating positive word of mouth, making it both cheaper and more effective than traditional marketing techniques.
Marketing without a clear brand strategy is a chaotic, costly exercise that in essence is little more than shouting and showing off about your products and services. People don't like or trust show-offs. If you want to make an impact, you need to talk to them like grown ups. With exposure to thousands of marketing messages every day, consumers have become largely immune to meaningless promotional messages, filtering them out and filing them in their mental recycle bins.
However, there is still a place for marketing and in many cases, marketing is part of the branding process as it provides a means by which to spread the brand story. This explains why there is so much confusion regarding the difference between them. Marketing used to be about the promotion of products and services. Successful marketing now focuses on the promotion of brands.
If an organisation developed a perfect brand idea but did nothing to promote it, then no one would ever have heard about it. The story would never spread and the strategy would be unsuccessful. It's therefore important to combine the strengths of both branding and marketing in order to reach your target market.
The most successful organisations combine a confident and forward thinking idea with a robust and organised strategy. They then use carefully targeted marketing to help get their story out. The success of their brands means that as time goes on, the need for formal marketing reduces and the effectiveness of any existing marketing increases, thus paving the way for increased profits and organisational growth.
In conclusion, brands are a key element of building profitable businesses with long-term sustainability. When executed well, they increase sales, add value to products and services and reduce marketing costs. They also give focus to a business, boost staff morale and increase share value.
Building successful brands is not simply a cosmetic exercise. They need to be consistent, true to the organisation and embodied throughout their activities. This is only possible when a clear brand strategy is in place to act as a framework for their implementation, and to ensure that they are always working towards the business goals. Marketing has its place as a tool for promoting brands, but once they have made a connection with the core of their target market, successful brands can sell themselves through word of mouth.
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What is it that makes some brands connect so well with their audiences? We could learn something about building brands for organizations by also asking, What is it that makes some people connect so well with other people? In many ways, organizations are like individuals. Each has its own specific "fingerprint" -- strengths, character, and personality -- that makes it unique and recognizable. It's how we get to know our friends and understand what it is about them that we like. In a world where no one has time to carefully weigh all available brand options, this fingerprint acts as shorthand to help us sort through the maze, a very real point of value at a time when it is increasingly difficult to tell one product or service from another. When an organization's brand fingerprint is clearly defined and articulated so that customers, shareholders, distributors, employees, and partners consistently feel they "know" the organization and know what to expect from it, magic happens.
This is when high emotional engagement occurs. This is when "raving fans" and customer loyalty are created. This is when organizations gain sustainable competitive advantage. Discovering and communicating this brand fingerprint helps organizations bring strategic focus to the power of their brand -- giving brands a meaningful and recognizable shorthand that helps cut through the noise and clutter to connect with people.
Brand fingerprint process
Following a process to help uncover the organization's brand fingerprint will ensure that the intangible attributes assigned to the brand -- assets like integrity and innovation -- are translated into a visual, tangible representation to which audiences can relate. The process has two phases, strategy and visual translation. It works like this:
Phase I. Strategy
Step 1. Finding your brand values, character, and personality
Step 2. Understanding the competitive landscape
Step 3. Determining your position in the marketplace
Step 4. Developing your value proposition
Phase II. Visual Translation
Step 1. Developing the brand mood
Step 2. Determining the key brand elements
Step 3. Developing the brand roadmap
Phase I. Strategy
The strategy phase can be compared to traditional methods of brand development and is based on core values. The difference here is that the exercises used in the facilitated sessions with company decision makers are designed not only to uncover brand values and attributes, but to gather information in a way that it will be useful for development of the visual translation of the brand. Pairing the creative team with decision makers at the very beginning of brand strategy development is essential in gathering input that will be critical to visual translation.
This is important since experts say that 80% of what we learn comes to us visually, and customers will most likely see brands long before they understand the strategy. There are many benefits of considering how the brand will be communicated visually at the strategy stage. Some of these benefits include: - translation of intangible company assets and attributes into tangible representations that truly reflect the company's core values - avoidance of possible disconnects when logos, websites, and print materials are developed - development of marketing materials that really communicate key messages - deeper understanding and long-term recall of brand messages by customer audiences - consistency of brand messages over time
Phase II: Visual Translation
The visual translation phase takes all of the information gathered in the strategy phase and translates it into a visual form that people can see and relate to -- the visible brand fingerprint. A clear and accurate brand fingerprint can communicate assets like integrity, zero defects, and innovation and make them palpable. Visible. Understandable. Audiences will know at a glance "who" the organization is, what it is saying to them, and why they should buy, react, or be moved. And it will be real, it will be authentic, and it will stand the test of time -- because what people see represents the synthesis of the brand strategy.
The benefits of developing the visual components of the brand directly from strategy exercises include:
- a brand mood that will communicate to customers on an emotional level, because the design is based on authentic aspects of the brand's character and personality - because the mood is a direct translation of strategy jointly developed by company decision makers and creative team, there are no unpleasant surprises at the design stage - the main visual components of the brand will look and feel "real" and will become the pillars upon which other marketing materials will be built - there will be no need for new themes, visual approaches, or deviations from the established visual translation. Brand equity builds with consistency. This is a cost-effective benefit.
Being true to the organization's authentic brand is how trust, loyalty, and sustainable relationships are developed between the organization and its audiences. Great graphics and cool animation aren't effective if they don't accurately communicate the company's character or brand. Something's amiss if the organization is not clear and consistent about how it is presenting itself in front of its publics. If the organization's brand and its image are not aligned, "brand schizophrenia" occurs, which significantly affects the quality of the relationship and level of trust with valued audiences, including customers and employees. Both lose trust in companies when they don't know what to expect. With brand strategy and visuals clearly articulated in a unique brand "fingerprint," organizations can make a real connection with their audiences. Once established, this connection enables them to communicate compelling value, promote long-term recall of brand messages, and foster the trust, loyalty, and emotional attachment that sustain relationships.
Networking has always been considered a powerful tool for improving business prospects, advancing a career, and developing ideas. Other than some brief, structured events, networking has been mostly informal and inexpensive in comparison to cost they otherwise spend on different channels. But membership is growing in many formal, long-term networking groups, and so is the price tag.
Our groups are not groups for generating sales leads, nor are they places where individuals can drop-in to gain quick advice on an immediate challenge. Members also sign a confidentiality agreement and benefits from the guided mentoring to help each other.
These groups include an experienced facilitator and use a structured discussion method to ensure appropriate participation.