01.27.10 Sage president Elin Raymond is presenting "The 'So-What?' of Sustainability: Inside the Minds of Millennials to Matures" on Feb. 8 at General Mills. Details here. Download presentation
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Integrated marketing and branding
From perception to reality – building a successful brand experience
All marketing initiatives come down to this: Supporting your brand experience and achieving your business objectives. Your brand experience is a part of everything you do – or don’t do – and say. It’s the sum total of the experiences customers and prospects have with your products, services and company:
- Your marketing and advertising materials
- Your Web site.
- The way your representative answers the phone.
- The responsiveness of your customer service representative.
- How fast the order is filled, and ...
- How your product looks and works. Does it fulfill its brand promise?
Every company – every organization – bears a brand: What its stakeholders perceive it to be. In many cases, that brand has been imprinted by default; in others, by design. In the first case, the brand has been allowed to “happen.” In the second, it has been carefully crafted. In all cases, an organization’s brand affects how it does business and its level of success. And it’s an organization’s first line of contact with its publics. (First impressions DO matter.)
Branding is all about what stakeholders think and believe about, and want in the organizations with which they interact or transact business.
- What do you think of when you think of McDonalds? Product consistency? Fast – and fat – food?
- How about Hallmark?
- And what about Lexus vs. Mercedes?
In organizations with a successful brand strategy, external and internal perceptions converge, and the brand experience advances and supports organizational objectives.
Successful brand-building is …
- Research-driven. Branding is directed by primary research: go to current and prospective customers, to strategic partners, and to other stakeholders to determine their perceptions of the organization and its products and services, how they make purchase decisions, what media influences those decisions, etc. Query management and employees to assess the internal climate and objectives. Conduct comparative competitive reviews to enable the company to seize ownership of its competitive spaces and maximize marketing impact. Research, in turn, is used to direct the development of a branding plan.
- Based on a strategic plan. Not reactive, rather active and strategic, a successful branding initiative is done “by the book,” or strategic plan. Strategies and tactics are tested against organizational and divisional objectives and incorporated only if they add value to the enterprise and brand.
- Integrated. The brand is implanted via thoroughly integrated marketing and communications media. From the logo to the phone response to the print and recruitment ads to the Web site to the press release … every stakeholder touch point is integrated to ensure a consistent brand experience.
- Ongoing. Successful brand building never stops. Because organizations, markets, services, and the profession are constantly evolving, the brand must evolve as well, which means that successful organizations periodically repeat the sequence of steps set forth here.
- Well-managed. To create a memorable brand experience that sets an organization aloft and apart from competitors and target audiences, calls for a systematic, proven approach that actively involves customers, partners, and other major stakeholders – like the Sage Brand Experience Development Process.™
Brand Development Process