When do you start brand strategy? ⏱️

Hint: A healthy brand is a must. You cannot start early enough!

3/4/2022

Getting started with your brand

A successful brand identity makes you stand out from your competitors. It establishes you as the expert in your industry. It creates loyalty among your target audience, gives your brand a reliable and professional character and gives your staff a vision they are willing to fight for. It all sounds very nice, but when is the right time to start working on your brand? Below I describe five perfect scenarios:

1. Starting from the beginning

If you don't want to waste time, start working on your brand before you go 'live'. This way, you can test many assumptions, adjust your communication and start with the perfect story before you jump on that moving train. The perfect opportunity to take another look at your vision, mission, core values, promises and image with an eagle eye. Because when that train starts moving, your brand has to interest, activate and above all convince!

Oatly
Oatly has had the same story from the start

2. A new name

You do not change the name of your company without a reason. The reason could be that your service is different, you are selling new products or the brand name is simply out of date. In all cases, a new name will give the company a new image and therefore also a new way of communicating. A rebranding is then not a bad idea! During such a project, you look at the consequences that the changes will have on your company and you work on the right brand strategy to ensure that the transition to the new brand name will run smoothly.

Parent company Facebook continues under the name 'Meta' | NOS
Another reason for a new name: A bad reputation (like with Facebook)

3. From start-up to scale-up

As a start-up, you are constantly testing your assumptions and making your product/service market-ready. However, in this phase there is often no budget for professionally designing the brand. The logo is often designed by someone the founder knows and the company name is often still a working title. But after having raked in a nice investment, the strategy changes. Personnel come into play, the brand is marketed more, and the company name and the chosen style no longer really cover the scope of what the company needs to grow into. These are all signs that a rebranding is necessary.

Wakuli. WAKE UP YOUR TASTEBUDS
After a tremendous growth spurt, Wakuli has adapted its brand strategy and visual identity

4. New services or products

Adding a new service or product to your brand's offering can cause a lot of confusion or even brand damage. Look at the Porsche brand, for example. Porsche was known as one of the most qualitative sports car brands until they came up with their own SUV. Many Porsche fans were not happy about this. The SUV was the opposite of what they expected from the sports car brand they had come to love so much. It was as if Moët started selling lemonade, as if John de Wolf became the new coach of Ajax, as if rapper Boef switched to classical music. It was a choice made by Porsche with which they have disappointed many fans.

What I mean by this is that you need to look carefully at whether the new service or product fits into your current brand. If it still fits well with the vision of your company and connects perfectly with your target audience, then you only need to look at restructuring your brand and communication. But if there is any doubt, sometimes it is better to make the new service/product a new brand or create a new line.

Model Guide: First-generation Cayenne - 2003-2010 | The Porsche Club of America
Is introducing a Porsche SUV a good idea?

5. Takeover or merger

Every company creates its own culture under its own vision. This includes its own norms, values and its own ways of communicating. But when two companies have to merge or a company is taken over by another party, there is often a clash between two company cultures. For these two audiences, it is often unclear what the consequences of the takeover/merger will be and this can lead to confusion, irritation and the ugliest gossip. A necessity to sort this out in the context of your brand strategy! Clear up the confusion by communicating what will be retained, what will be changed and what will be the new joint direction.

But beware! Some companies have built up such a loyal customer base under their own name that changing the brand can cause a lot of damage. In such cases, it is often decided to let the company exist under their own brand name but under the same umbrella (holding).

Facebook M&A Chief Defends Instagram Acquisition | PYMNTS.com
After Facebook's takeover, many Instagram users were angry

Branding is for the long term

We people are impatient, especially the Dutch. We want everything quickly, for little money and at the most attractive price. We get off on getting quick results and are often focused on the short term. Experience shows that companies that focus too much on the short term and do not have a bigger plan than just generating turnover, often end up in undesirable scenarios. Examples are: a generic brand story that does not distinguish itself from the competition, a vision and brand values with which the target audience and your staff cannot identify and having an offer that only sells under high discount conditions.

But... when you focus on your long-term vision and gather a talented team who is passionate about working with you, all you need is a dose of persistence and patience!

A brand needs time to grow and generate awareness. People who are unfamiliar with your brand need to have been in contact with your brand about seven times before they start to trust your company. This contact can be established by spreading advertisements, posting social media content, making your website easy to find and even by giving presentations or attending meetups. As long as you make sure that all your communication is recognizable and can be traced back to your brand, your brand will start to interest the target audience, give them trust and eventually they will become a customer and hopefully a loyal fan of your brand.

Loyal Apple fans queuing for a new iPhone

Conclusion

Branding needs time! And the sooner you start with your brand strategy, the better it will be for your business. Give your target audience a reason to believe in your company. Give them a goal, a vision, a clear and recognisable story, communicate this with an attractive appearance and turn your customers into fans. Fans who will continue to buy your products without hesitation and genuinely want to lead the brand to success. As long as you do this, you will not become the umpteenth company to be lost under the sentence: "They had a beautiful product that nobody heard about".

Thom Peet

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