The Rules of Branding

By Tom Dougherty

10 July 2014

Branding Rules. Winning Brand Projects.

The Marketing Options

branding rulesBranding rules exist. As marketers who have evaluated their options in hiring a brand company can tell you, there are wide variety of companies offering a wide variety of products and services.

Some brand companies seem to promise the world through their delivery of a logo and/or name. Ones created by the trendiest creatives.

Other firms are so client-focused that their work simply becomes the execution of someone else’s idea.

Still other firms base their work on solid strategic formulations backed up by real quantitative research data.

Each type of brand company has their place in the brand-building consultant world. Each and every client tends to look for something different. But the branding rules remain the same.

However, regardless of what kind of branding firm a company chooses to do business with, putting the work into practice can be a challenge. To even the most seasoned marketer.

There are a number of branding rules that marketers should follow. Things to improve the implementation of any branding project.

The size and structure of the organization may affect some of these guidelines. But they are all relevant to some degree, regardless of size or organizational structure.

Five branding rules to a winning brand project

branding rulesHave the desire to win – Sometimes moving forward (i.e. winning) requires one to do something differently than what it has always been done.

Usually the status quo does not enable us to get ahead. Rather, at its best, it only allows us to maintain our current state.

Having the desire to win is a major component of branding rules. It goes beyond the desire to increase sales, profit margin, or top of mind awareness. The desire to win should be about asking ourselves, “What are we currently doing (either in action or thought) as an organization or brand that gets in the way of our success?”

This includes examining preconceived thoughts or opinions concerning your brand and/or organization that cause stasis, over cumbersome business practices that cause you to think more about internal process than selling product or service, and moving away from “this is the way we have always done it” thinking.

Check ego at the door – No matter how good a brand firm is, it could never serve as a replacement for quality personnel within an organization.

Hiring an organization to look for problems and offer solutions can be an extremely unnerving experience. Having the ability and self-confidence to let a brand firm do their work is extremely important.

Branding rules… continued

Require C-level support and buy-in – This is one of the most important keys to success.

branding rulesThe leaders of the organization must be onboard and the initiative’s biggest cheerleaders.

At the very least, stakeholders, employees, customers, and Wall Street need to see that the C-level executives are supportive of the brand change.

In some cases, a change in brand and brand philosophy can necessitate the need for changes in organizational process.

The success of that can greatly depend on how much encouragement is coming from the top. (Read about the CEO’s role here.)

One of the most important of branding rules

Hold no sacred cows – A brand firm must be given permission to challenge everything.

branding rulesThis does not mean that an organization should be required to give a branding firm free reign over the company.

Rather, it means that an organization should be open to the possibility of changing anything. If something is not working for the brand, it should be fixed. Or all together eliminated.

Remember who the brand is for – At the end of the day, the brand should be a reflection of current and prospective consumers. A brand should never be about the company.

Logos, names, strategy, brand positioning, and tactics should never be solely based on what marketers believe. Every other brand touch point must be based on what the target market believes.

Branding rules for helping the company

branding rules

Winners get a bigger piece

This is not an all encompassing or an exhausting list.

These five guidelines represent the five biggest issues facing most marketers. Challenges they face when thinking about and executing a change in a brand.

Marketers may not have to address all of these points. They may find additional issues that are unique to their business or organization. (Read our rules for a successful brand project.)

However, these branding rules are important for every branding project.

Whether an organization is refreshing, reworking, or completely overhauling their brand, following these guidelines will assist marketers in assessing, selecting, and executing brand work.

Adherence to these guidelines will maximize the ROI on the investment. (Read about our process and how it works.)