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Episode in a Tweet: Leading B2B brand strategist takes the mystery out of branding and walks you through the branding process.
Quick Background: A Chicago native, Ryan moved to SoCal in the 1980s and founded an advertising design studio. Later, he partnered with Ray Baird and built RiechesBaird into one of the nation’s foremost B2B brand strategy firms. Under Ryan’s leadership, RiechesBaird received international recognition for its brand strategy work and was perennially ranked among the nation’s top B2B firms by BtoB Magazine. An astute thought leader, Ryan is frequently tapped by companies, conference organizers and business schools at top universities to speak about corporate branding and business building. He also co-hosts a podcast interview series with marketers and other B2B experts.
In today’s podcast, Ryan shares a template for enhancing your brand and getting to the essence of your “unique promise of distinction.”
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
1. Branding isn’t just fancy packaging and a catchy jingle.
Ryan defines branding as “your unique promise of distinction.” The idea behind branding is to clarify what your company is good at. Ask yourself, “How do you stand apart from the competition?” And it’s critically important that your brand helps you develop relevancy and a relationship with your target audience. A great product isn’t enough to make your sales go viral. “You have to clearly articulate your value proposition and get it out there to your target audience because if you’re not effectively positioning your brand, your competition may do it for you–and not in a flattering way.”
2. Your branding program will fail if you leave it up to the marketing team.
Branding starts with the executive team. Ryan says you should create a brand steering committee, which is a cross functional team comprised of executive leadership, marketing, sales, and financial. This gets everybody on the same page and allows your firm to hit the ground running when you’re ready to launch the brand. “The marketing team may be able to create your promise of distinction but you need the entire company to deliver upon that promise,” said Ryan. What’s not effective is “having one big rah rah meeting and saying, ‘here’s our new brand, here’s our new positioning, and here’s what we’re going to do now everybody get back to work and do it.'”
3. When you think of Volvo, what comes to mind? Safety! What comes to mind when people think of your company? You need a positioning statement.
“A positioning statement is typically around two, three, maybe four paragraphs long,” said Ryan. It celebrates what you’re great at and is overlaid with your brand personality traits. “People do business with people not faceless, nameless organizations. Bringing forth your personality traits helps your brand connect emotionally to your target audience,” said Ryan. It’s a bit like owning a piece of the prospect’s mind. You must be able to stand apart from the competition. “If you aren’t standing apart, you’re just a commodity who competes on price.” (See: How to make price irrelevant through radical customer service.)
4. Once you have a positioning statement, you should boil it down to a two to five word “brand essence.”
“Your brand essence is the exclamation point on your brand positioning. It is the core idea of what makes you unique and different,” said Ryan. Sometimes your brand essence becomes your tag line or brand line and it could get locked in with your logo. Either way, it defines the essence and the emotional connection of your brand to your audience.
5. Having a clear purpose, vision, and mission are critical building blocks of your branding process.
Your purpose is why you exist, what difference you make, why should anyone care and it’s the emotional component that gives your brand legs you can build upon. Your vision defines your destination and your mission is how you’re going to achieve it. Add your core values and your brand positioning and now you have a really strong set of core statements that can move your organization forward.
1. Branding is a team activity. Your branding program must be built by a cross-functional team so you can get companywide buy in.
2. Be intentional about how you position your brand or your competition will do it for you. Claim your space in your prospect and clients’ minds and if it’s too crowded, create a new category.
3. If you can’t state your brand essence in five words or less, start over. Clarity and emotional power are important components of your brand. Use as few words as possible to guide you in developing and living your brand.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.