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Building A Brand For The Long Term

Below is an excerpt about building a brand from Andrew J Sherman's book "Build Fast Build Right, 12 Strategies To Continue Building On Your Success." Andrew J. Sherman is a partner at Jones Day in the Washington, DC office (ajsherman@jonesday.com) and focuses his practice on issues affecting business growth for companies at all stages, including developing strategies to leverage intellectual property and technology assets, as well as international corporate transactional and franchising matters. He has served as a legal and strategic advisor to dozens of Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of emerging growth companies. For more of his work, visit his page here.

Building A Brand For The Long Term
At this stage in your company’s development, and to break through to the next level, it is time to get serious about your branding. This means that the brands that you select to identify your products and services must be carefully evaluated, distinctive, protectable, and represent a clear value proposition to the target customer. Rarely can a Joe’s Pizza or Systems Integrators, Inc., establish a strong enough relationship in the minds, hearts, and souls of the target market to propel growth beyond $5 million in sales, especially because these names are too generic to protect under federal law.

What Is A Brand?
A brand is a word, symbol, acronym, sound slogan, color, animal, building design, packaging, and so on, used to identify and/or differentiate the product or service of a company or family of companies, products or services of business groups or an association (for example, Sierra Club, Sunkist), from everything and everybody else.

What Purpose Does a Brand Play In Your Overall Corporate Strategy?
The First Step is to determine the role that your brand will have in communicating a key message to your target consumers, employees, suppliers, and so on. See the following examples—what is the compressed message or goal of your brand? Mission, purpose, or values. The brand is the corporate rallying flag and represents the culture of the company; for example, GE’s Better Things for Life®. Build brand loyalty, customers for life. The goal of your brand is to capture the customers early in their lifetime and hold onto them forever; for example, Starbucks®, Tide®, Coke® or Pepsi®. Convey a message or commitment. The brand’s promise is to build trust with the customer; for example, Allstate’s In Good Hands®, and other insurance, banking and financial services companies. After you have determined how your brand fits into your corporate strategy, your next step is to schedule a brand-planning meeting in order to develop your brand positions and strategy.  The exact attendees will vary based on your product or service, but the meeting typically involves your CEO, senior sales and marketing team, outside sales and marketing consultants and advisors, trademark counsel, and maybe even some of your biggest target customers.

The following is a sample agenda for a brand evaluation and positioning meeting:
  1. What is the history of perceptions/applications and uses of the company’s brand(s)?
  2. What have been the consistency and inconsistency in application or usage of the brand(s)—i.e, the brand(s) as a manifestation of company’s character and personality?
  3. What is the management’s vision and strategy for the brands; leadership/communication of branding vision? What are the strategic, financial, and marketing goals for the brand(s)?
  4. What are the current core and extended customer perceptions of the company’s current brand(s)? What value proposition(s) so the brand(s) represent? Are the goals for the brand(s) aligned with current internal and external perceptions?
  5. What role does the brand play in the decision making of the current and targeted customers or channel partners? What tools are being used to convey and maintain the branding message(s)?
  6. How does branding strategy fit into other programs in place to increase customer loyalty and drive new revenue streams?
  7. How can the company develop a branding strategy? How can the company brand(s) be managed as corporate assets (brands as standalone assets versus mere marketing tools)?
  8. In what form(s) does the brand(s) manifest itself (e.g., words, symbols, slogans, shapes, spokesperson, sounds, jingles, and so on, versus underlying product or service)?
Stayed tuned for more great business tips from Andrew J. Sherman in our excerpt series. And join us on Twitter for a #PEXCardChat with Andrew Sherman, Thursday, August 7th at 2:00 pm EST.

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