Touchpoints & Interaction: Develop 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 work through the branding process, particularly Phase 4, you should notice that you’re really getting into the fine details of the components of your brand. You have been working on fleshing out the various parts. All of these parts—whether it was determining your naming strategyback in Phase 2 or working on your design applicationsin Phase 4—are coming together to firmly establish your brand system. Developing your brand system is the fifth step of Phase 4.
The first part of developing your brand system is getting yourself in the right frame of mind. You and everyone in your organization needs to realize that your brand really is a system. What this means is that your brand is built upon itself; it is a combination of components. Each component you add should be built upon another area. Each component equally adds to the success of a brand. If your system is influenced by one component, or one area gets more attention than another, your brand will fail. In many companies, this is the case as they allow the marketing team to determine the course a brand takes, often without considering how it might impact other divisions. Remember that a brand is only successful if each part of the brand is treated equally.
Packaging Butterfly Effect
There is a scientific theory known as the butterfly effect, the belief that even the smallest things can have non-linear impact on complex systems. With branding, the butterfly effect is not just a theory; it is proven. This is why developing your branding system is crucial. Let me share an experience I had relating to this process.
Years ago, I was working with the software division of a Fortune 500 company. Every year all of the software that the company offered would be updated. These updates provided designers in the marketing department a unique opportunity that they looked forward to each year—the chance to develop new, exciting packaging. The designer for each software line would start approximately 8-9 months before the release to create the new “look and feel” for that version. This approach, however, produced a number of significant problems that impacted other divisions and departments. The designer would create a new icon treatment that impacted developers. Installation screens had to be rethought and often radically redesigned, which would also impact development times, as developers would have to stop working on other areas to rework or recreate the installation process. This presented problems for other departments as well. Each product would have additional software that could be used with it, these add-ons would be marketed the same way regardless of the product their marketing material was bundled with. While these add-ons would get updated themselves, they relied on the other software for sales. As a result, with each software release, they would include sales material for the additional add-on products.
As the designer would set out to create a whole new look and feel they wanted something new and different from the year before. This often meant changing the packaging size. One year a box might be 8.25″ x 8.25″ x 3″ with all the included material being sized at 8″ x 8″. This meant that the material produced for the previous year’s packaging (which might have been 9″x 8.25″) would have to be recreated with the remaining inventory being thrown away. This problem was compounded by the fact that there would possibly be eight other product lines doing the exact same thing, with each product line needing many of the same inserts sized at different sizes, even though they had the same content.
These changes also affected the shipping department, as they had to keep all the inventory on hand to send out software to customers. They needed storage space for the inventory and it increased the amount of time it took to get orders assembled, processed, and shipped out.
Working with the company I pointed out the wasted time of producing unique software packaging with each launch. I also pointed out that each launch essentially weakened each software’s brand as the brand was presented in a different manner each time. We also discovered the inventory cost and waste that each new version produced. Working with developers, shipping, and brand managers for the add-on products, we developed a new standardized packaging system.
As a result, each product launch time was reduced from the original 8-9 months because changes to new software packaging could be ready in only 1-2 months. Inventory space was reduced with each product using the same form factor. That one insert that was being produced in 8-9 different sizes was now produced in one standard size. Not only did order processing times decrease, order accuracy improved. When multiplied over 7-10 inserts, inventory space was greatly reduced. The space need for inventory was reduced to the point where part of the warehouse was converted to office space, allowing the division to wait 3 more years before having to build a whole new office building.
As I’ve pointed out, your brand affects all aspects of your organization, not just one or two areas. Knowing that the decisions of your marketing department, for example, impacts more than just sales allows for better decision making which impacts a brand’s bottom line. You have to move past the silo mentality that plagues brands all across the world. Your brand is more than just your logo, or the colors that you use. It is establishing a “We’re better together mentality.” You are establishing your belief system, it will drive you and determine how you succeed. By properly establishing your brand system divisions, employee or team member of your brand knows that another business areas success, is a win for the brand as a whole.
The Brand System Components
After getting each department, team, or person within your organization to understand how their brand-related decisions affect each other, you need the second part of the brand system—identify key components that strengthen your brand. There are five key components that all brands need to work out:
Your Story:Who are you and why does your brand matter? Why do customers connect with your brand?
Visual Language:This is the allowed imagery, typography, and color that your brand uses to express itself. These are the visual foundations upon which all communication is built—website, packaging, ads, and so forth.
The Offered Promise:What is it that your brand does that no one else offers or is able to compare to you? Is it better customer service, better product offerings, or perhaps prestige? All of these are areas are greatly affected by different departments, and they are done so differently.
Consistency:Your message needs to be consistent throughout every area of your brand. The more successful brands are viewed as a whole, not just a certain part.
Experience:How does your brand maintain the same experience throughout every possible touchpoint? Are your employees and brand ambassadors on the same page?
Developing your brand system and educating yourself and your organization as to how all areas impact the success of not just your core brand, but also the individual parts, will help you not only in creating a successful brand, but also in making your brand better.
Ideas To Make Your Brand Better Now:
- Establish how your brand system is connected throughout your organization.
- Determine the five components for your brand and how they tie to the various parts of your organization.
TERMS click to expand or collapse
Brand Touchpoints: The various methods in which a brand interacts with others. Touchpoints include the people, places, or items that enable communication between your brand and customers and potential customers.
Brand Ambassador: Any person, internal or external, who is passionate and speaks highly of your brand. An ambassador will stand up for your brand and promote its virtues even before the product is available to the masses.