Doing a quick search on "branding" in Google, it will bring you millions of results. You will find freshly-posted articles everyday, covering topics from How Small-time Brands Made It Big to Brands Share In Joy Of Giving On Social Media and from Why Brands Should Have Stronger Opinions to Content Marketing 101. Navigating through these articles and school of thoughts, you will soon find yourself losing focus. As soon as these streams of information become overwhelming, it will in turn becomes senseless. Especially for a Business Owner or a CEO who really just want to focus on certain key aspects of his business.
In order to help Business Owners, here is what we are going to do. We will introduce a perspective on how to fuse the various Elements of Branding into their business planning - right here. Removing all the frills, we uncover the Key Elements of a Brand and will further explain how these elements influence one another; to create, what I call, a Brand's Ecosystem.
Similar to Mother Nature, every Brand has its ecosystem. It dictates not only the success of your Brand, but also how sustainable it is. Every Element in this Ecosystem is an important factor which ultimately adds up to how far the brand could go and for how long it would last. After researching through numerous case studies and discussions, we've come to a conclusion with the Five Key Elements of a Brand Ecosystem.
This Element is probably the easiest to explain. It is also the most important of the lot. The basic element for all brands is money, this goes without saying. A Company's Bottomline (commonly known as Profitability) dictates almost everything. With adequate resources, a Company can invest these resources to create a new product, or enhance its services. However, It is also important to note that resources is not limited to just money.
It also comprises of other stuff like customer's Feedback, Market Research and Customer Database, etc.
Unique Selling Point
Whether is it a start-up for which an entrepreneur dump his savings into developing a new product, or a big corporate giant like Apple who enhances its next generation of iPads, all brands always begin with the development or enhancement of their products or services. Which must be unique and should cater to the needs of their Target Audience. This is the stage of Research and Development.
With the input of resources, be it cash, Human Resource or Market Research, R&D develops the product or services to sell.
Internal Branding is probably the Element where most Business Owners do not pay attention to. Imagine stepping into a high-end boutique, only to realise their staffs are wearing sluggishly, or worse, behave badly. Though examples like this do not happen day-in-day-out, Internal Branding is an Element that every Business Owners should not take for granted.
Business Owners should expect their staff to always behave and dress properly, they should also expect the Marketing department to synchronise their Campaign Message. And make sure the Customer Service Officers are able respond to customers' queries in a proper fashion. Infact, it takes much more resources and effort to ensure the entire business is well-aligned with the Brand's Philosophy.
This is probably the most exciting part of the whole Branding Ecosystem. This is the stage where an organisation has come to a need to establish a strategy on how it intends to reach out to the desired Target Audience. Considerations like which Media Channels are they going to use, what kind of Content Strategy to adopt, to setting up of a proper Chain of Approval, as well as deciding what is the Key Message to deliver.
From setting up of a Website, to a Facebook page; from crafting of its Search Engine Optimisation to organising a Brand Event to engage - this is where a Brand starts to reach out and engage its Target Audience.
Of course, the degree of awareness depends on the amount of resources utilised to market the Brand. And how effectively it was marketed.
By this time, the Target Audience is now aware of the Brand. This is when they start to compare the Brand with its competitors. This is the stage where they make a judgement on whether they would want to know more about the product, to sign up for newsletters, to blog about the service, or whether should they happily purchase the product or service. This is also the time when they will complain about defects.
It is critical for Business Owners to be prepared to react to the general sentiment, be it negatively or otherwise. Eventually, the Sales Revenue, Feedbacks and Contact Information will then be funneled into the Company's resources.
And another cycle begins
After which, another cycle will begin all over again, where more resources will be funneled to improve products / services, to realign Internal Branding in order to launch another round of External Branding. In hope to get more resources in.
The key thing to note about this Ecosystem is that all Elements influence one another other delicately. In order for a Brand to grow and sustain, each Element has to be addressed adequately to outperform competitors.
Now reflect again, and again. Does your organisation have the Key Elements well taken care of, in order to bring your Brand to its glory? Or is it on its way to extinction?