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Business Aviation Marketing • General Aviation Marketing
5 Tips for Creating a Strong Brand
In last month’s article, I wrote about brand and how important it is to have a strong brand in today’s competitive marketplace. Brand, as you know, is much more than your company logo or your advertisements. Brand is what you stand for and the personality you convey. So what do you do if the marketplace doesn’t quite see your brand the way you want them to see it? You create a branding strategy.
In my years as an aviation marketing professional, I have found that companies in our industry are some of the worst when it comes to creating a good brand. In fact, it would be easier for me to name several companies who have done a good job at creating a strong brand than it would for me to point out the bad examples. All you have to do is leaf through your favorite aviation publication and look at the articles and advertisements. What are your immediate thoughts when you first see a company’s name? Truth is, your immediate thoughts don’t go to what the ad or story is saying, rather, your immediate thoughts go to what you already know (or think you know) of the company. This is brand recognition. Brand recognition is created through a multitude of things, but your opinion of the company has likely been created over time through mechanisms like word-of-mouth, stories and articles you’ve read, people you know at the company, or through talking with someone who has done business with the company. Many things will form your opinion of them, but ironically, few opinions are formed through their advertising alone. Brand is created more by what you deliver (products or services) and how you deliver them (people) than what your ads and other marketing communicate.
“So why am I spending all this money on marketing,” you might ask? Marketing is essential to grow your business and effectively communicate your brand in a broad marketplace. However, the best marketing in the world isn’t going to help you if you don’t deliver on your promises. We work in a very sophisticated industry and buyers tend to do a lot of research before making a purchasing decision. Your marketing will get your name out there, but your brand is why people ultimately buy from you.
Create a Branding Strategy
Creating a strong brand doesn’t happen by accident. You may have a good reputation with your customers, but it takes an effective strategy and plan to achieve a brand that is well-known throughout the rest of the industry - one that will drive sales. Here are 5 tips to help you create a branding strategy aimed to improve your brand in the marketplace.
1)Research – It is critical that you understand what your brand stands for today before you develop a strategy to change it. It is equally important to find out what services, features and attributes are valuable to your target market as you develop a branding strategy. This is no time to make assumptions either. Survey customers and non-customers alike, including prospects, vendors, operators, brokers, bankers… anyone in the industry that may have a connection to you and your potential customers. I recommend using a reputable marketing firm to help you develop these surveys, as they can help you develop questions that are focused, non-leading and measurable, which will give you the information you need to make informed decisions. The good news is that the surveys can be used again down the road. The results will provide a benchmark to measure the results of your new branding strategy. 2)Set Branding Goals – After you determine what your current brand represents and what attributes are important to your market, you can then develop your branding goals. This step can be the most difficult and requires careful consideration. Unless you have a bad reputation in the industry, you should incorporate existing brand attributes (the good ones) into your new branding goals and build on the good brand you already have. Involve your leadership team (all departments) in this process and be sure your goals are in line with your company’s mission statement. What do you want your company to be known for? Think of emotions, attributes and visuals you want associated with your company when developing your branding goals. 3)Share & Brainstorm – After you’ve compiled the results of the surveys and developed a list of branding goals - share it with everyone in your company. The best approach to take here is to schedule an all-hands meeting to discuss the results of the surveys and branding goals. This allows your employees to see the company’s strengths and weaknesses and gets them involved in developing a solid branding strategy. Ask them for suggestions on how to best deliver your branding goals. By taking this approach, you are more likely to have buy-in from your team and the results will be far better than if you were to make this a leadership project where managers simply tell employees what to do. 4)Develop a Strategy to Achieve Branding Goals – By this point, you should know what your branding goals are and have a few solid ideas on how to achieve those goals based on customer, industry, and employee feedback. Chances are, the strategies discussed involve all departments in your company – not just your marketing or sales departments. In fact, if the strategies are mainly focused on your products or service delivery, then you are on the right track. At this point, your leadership team needs to take those ideas and suggestions and put them into an actionable plan with measurable results. Keep in mind that this is not a 1, 3 or even 12 month project; it is a continuous project. So your executable plan should be one that is constantly monitored, measured and improved. Rome was not built in a day, and neither was your brand. 5)Deliver! – The most important part of any plan, is action. Stick to your branding strategy and meet with your leadership team once a month to discuss the results. Your brand is not going to change overnight, but by continually focusing on achieving your branding goals – you will see results.
Where Brand and Marketing Converge
I have often heard that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising. After many years as a marketing professional, I know this is true – especially in our industry. But if you want to be known for something, you have to deliver it AND tell the world about it. Once you know what your branding strategy is, marketing your products and services becomes much easier. By consistently delivering your desired brand, the effectiveness of your marketing messages will go up exponentially and your business will undoubtedly grow.
By Kandi M. Spangler
President, Vertical Markets
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