As a business owner, you know it is important to set different goals for different aspects of the company, from sales goals to team goals to marketing goals. Brand management is no different. There are many moving parts that go into your business’ image, each with a different goal for reaching consumers. Your “brand” not only says who you are and what you offer to existing clientele, but it also becomes the way in which you are perceived by potential customers. It is the foundation of your business; what people will think of when they hear your name.
As your business evolves, your messaging will likely change. All the while, it is important to ensure that the messaging stays consistent with current business goals. But who has time for that? Because of the time it takes to build and maintain an effective brand strategy, successful businesses will use a brand marketing agency that specializes in brand development. San Diego businesses have seen positive results from utilizing a dedicated company to manage brand and image.
So what is brand management, and how does it relate to your business? Believe it or not, the term has taken on several meanings throughout the years.
What is Brand Management?
According to Wikipedia, brand management is defined as “the analysis and planning on how that brand is perceived in the market.”
Depending on your overall business needs, brand management could mean any of the following at any given time:
- Routine maintenance to ensure the messaging and voice used to promote a service or product (and the tangible look and feel of the print collateral, advertising, packaging, signage, and environment) are consistent with your business goals.
- Developing how your business is “perceived” in the marketplace. Potential consumers will sway one way or another based on their perception of your company. Even without knowing what your business is about, what consumers THINK of your brand is critical from the get-go. You have one first impression. And because attention span is so short these days, it is important to maintain a positive perception tied to your business name no matter what.
- Brand management can also include the development of techniques that will boost the value of a product or service. When it comes down to it, consumers simply want to know: how does this benefit me? The message of your overall brand strategy should be explicit in how it provides value to the consumer.
- It’s more than a message or a look; it is also living the brand across every touchpoint, from your employees, supporters, etc. You ARE the business, the business is YOU. Show that to customers. Especially in an online business, you should be able to connect with consumers so they see the human behind the screen. While we have evolved into a mostly digital world, human interaction is still a positive reinforcement that gives your company a more personal feel.
Like any branding agency in San Diego, Buchanan Brand + Design focuses on the fluidity of brand management and, looking at and developing all aspects of the brand. We strive to make every aspect of your business as personal as you want. We value your success as much as you do. When we do our job, you can do yours.
How to Hire a Brand Management Firm
Now that you understand brand management, how do you go about finding the ideal brand design agency to get you to where you need to go? Take the time to talk to different agencies to get a feel for a partnership. A successful campaign starts with a successful relationship. Here are some basic rules to keep in mind when looking for an agency to work with:
Project understanding – The company you hire should not only be willing to work for you, but also with you. Knowing the specific goals of your company will allow them to develop a strategy that brings the most success to your business. Meet with the agency in person to get a feel for how they work and to discuss strategic objectives. When you start on the same page, you end on the same page.
Cultural perspective – There are many “automated” designers out there that while affordable, have very little understanding of your industry or local competitive landscape. A good brand strategy firm will learn about your company, your goals, and the cultural norms that will help to build a strong brand message. Also important to note, is how much time the agency is willing to put into research and analysis to get the job done.
Communication – Communication is KEY. You want to make sure the branding agency you work with is not only available for discussion when needed, but also open to it as well. Your messaging and image will inevitably evolve as your business grows. Having open dialogue when working with a design agency will help to streamline the process so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
Concept – Crowdsourcing sites is the lack of “concept.” A design agency will spend hours researching the client and their competitive landscape before putting pencil to paper. Crowdsourcing relies on numbers. They present you with a plethora of concepts, most of which won’t be in line with your vision and goal. SO when you find one remotely close to your goals, it wins. (Take a look at a blog post we wrote about Crowdsourcing vs. Design Agency and what you need to know before choosing price over value.)
Originality – A good design agency understands the importance of original work and reputation. You’ll find that many agencies use a “copy and paste” method of brand management, simply “borrowing” ideas from the Internet or other strategies. While they attempt to pass these along as original ideas, a quality design agency will spend the necessary time researching the client and their competitive landscape before putting pencil to paper.
Pros of Outsourcing Brand Management
Many business owners get easily overwhelmed when attempting to handle their brand management single-handedly. On the one hand, it seems like the money saved is worth the work. On the other hand, however, we all know that time is money, and your time can be best spent on other aspects of your business. There are many pros to hiring a brand design agency:
- Brand management firms are dedicated experts in brand strategy and creative execution; it’s what they do. Just like there’s a reason you do what you do, there’s a reason we do what we do. Let the agency worry about your message so you can focus more on your business goals.
- When done right, a solid brand stands out. You separate yourself from competition to your target market and build a positive perception. Ultimately, having a specialized agency working for your brand brings value to your business. As your business grows, your time becomes more valuable. It is important to focus that time and attention to your customers, so let the agency work behind the scenes to ensure that your image and message remain consistent.
- Working with an agency leverages years of experience and knowledge of branding to make smart and informed decisions that will bring value to your overall brand strategy. You get many different talents working to each of their strengths. Brand management is fluid. It is important to have flexible and versatile hands working on your brand. And because different aspects of your brand require different voice, tone, message, and goal, you should place strengths where success is inevitable.
What is the Brand Management Strategy Process?
Once you’ve hired the agency, the brand management process is simple. Working with the agency, you will:
DEFINE and determine essential qualities of your brand, define the scope of the campaign, determine measures of success, and hammer out tangible deliverables.
Research and systematically investigate the subject and collect data (market, competition, trends, etc).
Ideate and form the brand strategy and creative ideas to define the course of action.
Validate that the ideas and plan are in line with your overall goals.
Execute the design, develop in accordance with the plan, gather feedback and review.
Reassess your strategy regularly to account for any changes and to make necessary adjustments to maintain consistency with your overall brand goal.
What Does a Brand Management Firm Do?
Brand management agencies will always work closely with you to ensure that the brand stays consistent with your voice and goals. It is important to work together to get a common understanding of your company and goals to determine and/or define who you are and what you stand for. (Remember: perception.)
Once your strategy is flushed out, the agency will design and develop marketing materials that reflect the brand. No two businesses are the same. We work to make sure each aspect of your brand strategy fits within the scope of your brand. Just because a firm offers a multitude of services, not all of them may work for your business. Work to determine which components will be most effective so you get your money’s worth.
One intangible of a solid brand is the emotional connections that can be created to a brand or a product. You take pride in your work; your marketing agency should do the same. Successful businesses start with a strong brand strategy. With the same passion and determination for growth, a brand management firm should put every effort in to make sure you are happy with your brand, image, and business.
What Services does a Brand Management Firm offer?
Most brand management firms offer the same type of services: competitor analysis, logo identity, web design and development, mobile and video, and maybe even print collateral. But keep an eye out for agencies that offer services above and beyond their competitors. Look for options like focus groups, interviews and surveys, positioning, visual and written style, taglines, brand standards, packaging, tradeshows and events, and even interior branding. There are a number of tools that brand management firms can use to develop a brand management strategy so make sure you choose an agency that has the right tools for your project.
Finding the right branding agency is important. Not only should they understand and be willing to work to meet your business goals, but they should also be there to alleviate the amount of time you need to spend focusing on your image. When they take control of your brand strategy, you’ll have more time to focus on your own business. Let a brand agency get your customers in the door…you’ve got the rest!
“There is nothing better than collaborating with a team whose creativity knows no bounds. I cannot express how pleased we are with the level of professionalism, customer service and results Bobby Buchanan and his team have provided us.”
Kathy, UC San Diego Health