Preparation Is Key To Successful Branding

To be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win.

Quote attributed to Zig Ziglar

Before you jump into a branding exercise with an Agency, there are two documents that form the foundation of an effective banding initiative: 1) Brand Promise Statement and 2) Strategic Target Matrix. These documents help ensure effective deployment of a competitive communication program to attract/convert customers (consumers). The documents are used to provide strategic guidance for ongoing decisions in deployment of both marketing and sales tactics.

For perspective, most companies cannot differentiate their product/service from the competition based on WHAT they deliver; they differentiate based on HOW they deliver the desired customer (consumer) benefit. The Brand Promise Statement is a one page document describing why somebody would want to use your product or service rather than the competitor’s. It includes identification of both point of parity and points of difference. The Strategic Target Matrix is a table that translates the brand promise into a relevant and compelling benefit for each defined target audience. It includes a prioritization of the key claims (reasons to believe) that helps convince the target on the authenticity of your product/service benefit. Essentially, these documents capture the Management decisions of WHO you want to talk to and WHAT you want to say.

The right Brand Promise Statement generates business value by:

  • More quickly capturing your prospect’s attention. In a highly competitive market getting noticed early by a prospect translates to more opportunities to win customers/consumers.
  • Generating interest in what your product/service has to offer. In the mind of your prospect, your brand gets to be one thing. That matters because the prospect’s mind is where your brand lives. The right brand promise sets a compelling expectation for what the prospect will experience from engaging with your brand.
  • Providing consistency in messaging across marketing and sales tactics. Message focus and consistency will establish a positive association with your brand. It helps ensure prospects remember the most important benefit of engaging with your brand.

A well thought through Strategic Target Matrix improves messaging effectiveness by ensuring a focus on the realized benefit of your promise through the eyes of your prospect. It helps you avoid advertising that speaks to your Management rather than advertising that speaks to your prospects. It ensures you answer the prospect’s most important question of “What is in it for me?”.

There are a number of important additional steps involved in the branding process. But, the Brand Promise Statement and Strategic Target Matrix are foundational. Despite the simplistic description above, these are exceptionally difficult documents to author. Done well though, your branding exercise and investment will be on the road to success. Don’t be afraid to get guidance from a branding expert on authoring these documents. But, whatever you do don’t skip the step of writing them.

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