The Branding Blueprint

The definition of a brand is “everything that gives an entity its recognition, meaning and value.” The brand perception held by the public, your customers and others familiar with your brand may or may not match the intended brand image. Crafting a brand blueprint is the process of identifying all the touch points your brand will have with a customer and determining what outcome you are looking for—what type of person will enjoy the experience (your brand persona), what kind of experience do you want them to have, what do you want them to say about the experience, and what behaviors do you want them to adopt after the experience.

Without fail, clients tell me they want “raving fans”. That requires making and keeping a promise that matters. What promises are you making and how well are you keeping them? Here are the factors that determine how people think about your brand. Let’s look at each briefly.

  • Recognition: What they see—are all of the visual aspects of your brand aligned to communicate the same message to the same audience? Consistency matters. The company name, logo, slogan, fonts, visual images should all be created to appeal to a particular audience.
  • Meaning: What they experience—how many ways do customers interact with your brand? Are all of those mediums sending a consistent message? Companies use a wide variety of ways to personalize their brand including the traditional methods of print, TV, radio, and sponsorships along with social media of website, social sites, and blogs, and now mobile phones. Equally important is whether their actual experience reinforces the message or promise you made in the communications above. Does the experience reinforce the message? How about the store look and feel? The customer service? The product performance? The website navigation? They all matter!
  • Value: What it is worth to the customer. The main function of a brand to a customer is to reduce risk. It helps the customer make a judgment about the item they are preparing to purchase and how much they might be willing to pay for it. The brand image you create determines how it makes the customer feel. Apple and McDonald’s have two very different images. The brand quality is the record of how it performs. You can look it up in consumer reports or ask the store salesman how many returns they get, so once again, don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Finally, the brand value is derived by weighing the benefits received for the price paid. Nothing wrong with paying $.99 for a hamburger, but don’t expect to eat it with a linen napkin.

What promises are you making to your customer, and how do you ensure you are consistently delivering on them? Create a brand blueprint so that all of the elements above are integrated to deliver that promise time and time again.

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