Managing & Extending: Build Cohesion and Synergy Around the Brand System
STRATEGY IS ALWAYS NEEDED
This article continues examining, in depth, the parts of the branding process that I introduced in my e-book, 17 Mistakes that Can Harm Your Brand. In the book, I outline five phases of the branding process:
As you move into the final phase of the Branding Process—Managing and Extending—you begin finalizing your brand for public consumption. The first part of Phase 5 is Building Cohesion and Synergy around the Brand System. In Phase 4 I discussed developing your brand system, and how every part of your brand needs to be considered and taken into consideration when it come to your brand. Building cohesion and synergy around your brand system is taking this, applying it, and ingraining it into every aspect of your business.
What Is Cohesion and Synergy?
To have complete brand cohesion and synergy it is important to know and understand how they are both similar and yet two different attributes of your brand. To understand these two attributes, let’s first look at cohesion. Brand cohesion is the when all aspects of your brand are in line with one another yet are flexible enough to work within their individual environments. A perfect example of this is social media. Let’s say your brand uses Facebook and Twitter to communicate with your audience. Facebook allows for a different style of communication that Twitter does. There are the obvious differences, such as character count, layout, and the items you can share. There are also differences in audience participation, age, and the expectation of each social media site’s users. Twitter is known to respond better to communication between individuals, whereas Facebook users are more open to corporate-related communications. Even with their differences, if your brand uses them (or any other social media site), you need to have a clear understanding as to how your brand will interact through the channel and the type of presence it will have. This cohesion allows for a unified understanding of your brand and helps users build trust with you as they come to know what they can expect from your brand.
Where cohesion is the handling of the individual parts related to the whole, synergy is the realization that no individual part is more important than the whole. This means that while your brand might be using a social media channel such as Facebook, your Facebook presence does not define or drive your overall brand. Just as you learned in Phase 4 that no single division or department of your brand is more important than another, no single component of your brand is more important than the sum of your brand.
To have cohesion and synergy, realize that your common aspect of your brand that runs through your various branding elements need to be consistent but remain flexible enough so that your brand can operate appropriately in its needed environment. Let’s look back at Facebook and Twitter. If your brand is engaging on Twitter, every interaction you have is limited to a maximum 280 characters, whereas Facebook is much more open with over 65,000-character capability. With the difference in communication ability you can see that your message would need to change, however, your brand voice would still need to be the same.
From the Top Down
Cohesion and synergy need to be worked into your brand from the beginning. You also need to enlist all the C-Level executives. They direct the work of their departments and each department potentially interacts with customers which, in turn, can impact your brand. You want them to be able to have the fixability to interact and engage with people in their area. If you have buy-in and support of the C-Level executives, they should be able to communicate and serve as brand champions for those under them. Without the support of your C-Level executives your brand will not be able to be cohesive as you don’t have synergy.
Success with Four Simple Steps
To achieve cohesion and synergy any brand needs to ensure that they are following four simple steps. Each step allows for clarity and lessens the chance for confusion and misunderstandings. These four steps will help ensure that your brand has the cohesion and synergy needed to help your brand be better:
- Define the unmovable – Outline and clearly define the parts of your brand that cannot be compromised. These are the non-negotiable items, no matter the platform, experience, or communication method. This will help maintain the synergy
- Clarify the communications channels – Outline the various ways in which your brand is going to communicate with the world. Understand the whys and hows of these communication channels—why do your customers use this channel and how do they expect to interact with a brand through the channel?
- Define the wiggle room – You have defined the unmovable and the channels, now define the ways in which your brand can adjust to the fit in those channels while not compromising the brand.
- Establish methods to expand – If a new communication channel is discovered, how will your brand move into it? Will the new channel fall within the unmovable aspect of your brand? Do you risk compromising your brand by quickly jumping on any new method?
By striving for and creating a way for your brand to achieve cohesion and synergy before you launch, you will find that your brand is ready for future growth and interaction with your marketplace.
Ideas To Make Your Brand Better Now:
- Establish with your C-Level executives the importance of obtaining and having cohesion and synergy.
- Work through the 4 steps to achieve cohesion and synergy.