Be Your Branded Self: How to Represent Your Brand

By claire |

jennifer_aniston320Whether you’re endorsing your brand to the media or representing your brand at a networking event, there are a few important things to keep in mind when acting as a brand representative. Every action you (or your selected representative) take as a brand spokesperson creates a (hopefully!) positive association between your audience and your brand. The key thing to remember is that you’re not just representing a brand: you’re embodying an idea.

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when speaking on behalf of a brand.

1. Remember the brand’s value proposition.

Value Proposition: Live it. Learn it. Love it. Your brand’s value proposition is the single most important aspect of your brand to keep in mind. Ask yourself, what value do I want to bring to my potential clients or audience? What words or ideas to I want clients to think of when they hear my brand’s name? Am I communicating my value proposition through my actions and words?

2.  Remember your audience.

You can’t have a successful interaction if your audience thinks your message is boring or irrelevant. However, some spokespeople can take a less than stellar mesage and still capture an audeince’s attention.  How can you do the same? Engage your audience by using appropriate body language and tone of voice. Get excited about your brand! Keep in mind the wants and needs of your audience and ask meaningful questions or present ways to fit the need. Bring your brand’s message to life by being an effective public speaker.  According to Burrelles Luce, a leading media relations expert, a successful brand spokesperson should be:

  • Accessible0007fafb
  • Engaging
  • Visually-pleasing (this does not mean you need to hire a supermodel, just make sure you’re well-dressed)
  • Use a positive and upbeat tone of voice

3.  Remember to be direct.

No one wants to hear an hour-long speech or pitch that could be summed up in sixty-seconds.  Be brief.  Rehearse your 60 second “elevator pitch” in the mirror and to colleagues.  If you can’t get your point across in less than sixty seconds, you need to revisit step #1.

4. Remember to bring your personality.

Don’t be afraid to bring your own unique personality to your brand.  Consumers and audiences like a spokesperson they can relate to and who is different than the rest.  As long as you’re within the guidelines of your brand, it’s okay to be yourself; just be your branded self.

Follow these four steps and you’re on your way to being the perfect brand ambassador! Does anyone else have any ideas about how to be a great brand representative?

Crossing Borders with your Brand

By claire |

sbuxshanghaiTucked away in the oldest corner of Shanghai—known for its traditional architecture, Chinese pearl shops and exquisite gardens —is none other than Starbucks Coffee. Interestingly enough, this Starbucks is merely one location of 111 in Shanghai alone. So the question becomes, how exactly does Starbucks do it? How is it possible that a single brand can appeal to each unique audience and succeed on such a large international scale? Although international branding is complicated enough to fill the pages of a five book series, here are a few helpful tips to create an international brand.

1. Create a clear vision

While this may seem slightly obvious, for many companies, it proves to be difficult. First and foremost, it is necessary to create a clear vision for your brand and your company as a whole. At this point, your company should identify its core competence, and understand how the company differentiates itself from its competitors. Based on your core competence, identify a succinct positioning statement. Keep in mind that the positioning statement should be concise, catchy and appealing to your target audience. Later on, the positioning statement functions as a direct interface between your company and the consumer by appearing via print and online advertising.

2. Increase Brand Tangibility and Visibility

sbuxFirst, spend time developing your company logo, which plays an important role in your corporate identity. Lets return to the Starbucks example to give us some additional insight. Starbucks’ circular green and black logo not only assures the consumer that the coffee they receive is of the highest quality, but carrying a Starbucks coffee cup also makes a statement about you as a consumer. Starbucks Coffee brands itself as a luxurious and sophisticated company, as evidenced by its chic interior and expensive menu items, and this company logo is undoubtedly intertwined with this particular lifestyle.

Another means to increase brand visibility is to maintain a strong online presence through two primary outlets: your company’s website and social media tools including blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. By following Tip #1 and creating a defined positioning statement, the company will have no problem maintaining a consistent online presence. Finally, building a strong network of business contacts will further increase your brands visibility.

3. Understand the Balance between Standardization and Customization

friesAs you expand into new markets, it’s especially important that your brand delivers a clear and consistent message to your consumer. In the case of McDonald’s, consumers expect the same yellow “M” logo, greasy french fries, and speedy service whether they are in Madrid, Spain or Ann Arbor, Michigan. McDonald’s takes standardization to the extreme by creating their very own “Hamburger University,” where they train McDonald’s employees. Keep in mind that this type of standardization is not right for every company. In the case of Starbucks, they tailor their product mix slightly to each unique audience. In China, they offer different frappaccino flavors than in the United States. For a high-end retailer like Starbucks, this works. The overall message of this final tip comes down to the following: standardization and customization are not necessarily dichotomous. In fact, the tricky part comes in finding what’s right for your particular brand!

Building a Strong Brand

By claire |

business team workInternal branding plays a key role in building a strong brand with a consistent external message.  To build a brand that is understood by the marketplace, a company must first understand its value proposition, and ensure that all of its employees commit to it. Complete internal commitment is vital to any brand because without it your company will send customers mixed messages. Successful internal branding has many components such as: recognizing brand touch-points, internal team alignment, and employee on-boarding, all of which contribute to the ultimate goal of aligning internal and external brand messages to ensure that your company delivers what your brand promises at every opportunity.

Aligning external and internal branding messages, or making sure that what the brand promises is the same as what the brand delivers, can begin with recognizing your brand touch-points. Some of them are quite obvious, such as customer interaction and management, packaging and pricing. Others, such as employee protocol, company policies, practices, are less obvious. Take the time to identify your brand touch-points and create a map. Begin going through each process such as marketing, selling and servicing. Identify each opportunity your customer or employee has to interact with the brand. Creating a touch-point map will also allow employees to see how and where they are tied into the brand.

Is your HR team aligned with the customer service team? How does your HR team hire? Are the candidates that they bring in, in line with the brand? Is the customer service team in line with the product development team? Make sure that all departments within the company are on the same page. If your company markets itself as a high-end luxury goods brand and uses low quality materials in the manufacturing process, there is a disconnect.

You may need to tailor how the information is delivered to the team; what is relevant to one team, could be irrelevant to another. Once you have the departments aligned (or the heads of each team) getting the employees in sync will be that much swifter. People enjoy having role models, so making sure that the team leaders (or CEO’s) are on brand is crucial! Alignment falls short if the heads of companies aren’t promoting the proper message.Bridge

Getting your employees engaged is key to consistent internal branding. Consider the brand touch-point map that shows employees where/when they interact with customers and which interactions they have more control over in terms of the customers experience. Create a checks and balance systems that monitor the difference. You want this experience for the customer to be the same no matter where (in the world) they are interacting with your company or through what mode (web, in person, print, etc). Training is important because employees need to understand in order to really get why they need to act in a particular fashion- they just can’t be told to act a certain way without any real explanation.

Continuously reiterate and reinforce the brand’s core values. Try employee recognition programs by recognizing employees who have effectively and properly acted upon the brand’s core values. Consider setting up a rewards program for teams that have worked successfully in coming up with a new idea.

In conclusion, if your employees don’t understand the brand, then you can guarantee that your customers won’t get it either. If your employees are in sync with the brand, they will be inspired by the brand and will be a brand aficionado. Remember, a brand isn’t just the name or the logo. It is an experience. All of this equals greater customer trust and loyalty.