Branding is more than your logo; it is the entire experience someone has when interacting with your organization. From the product and the packaging, to the email signatures and the way you answer your phone, it is important to be cognizant of how these impressions do (or do not) support the image you’re trying to achieve.
A successful brand will be embedded into a company’s DNA, and for a social enterprise this means the social purpose of the venture should be present throughout. However, this doesn’t mean the brand is somehow predestined. It is the ongoing culmination of lots of smaller aspects of your company and as a result can, and perhaps even should, evolve over time. This article provides some of the things your enterprise will want to think about when approaching building a brand and when reevaluating and re-crafting it over time.
A brand is the promise of a repeatable experience. And an experience is only worth repeating if it’s a good one. So in order to build a good experience and one that is repeatable, your brand should be both authentic and consistent.
Don’t set out to launch a brand, set out to solve a problem. If your message is authentic, your customers will be loyal and, in turn, become your marketers. They will share your story and grow your impact at a scale you could have never done through a traditional marketing campaign.
Consistency is what allows those experiences with your company to add up to tell a story and to build a brand. Create a standard one-sentence, one-paragraph, and one-page description of your company and stick with it. Be sure to align internal branding and communications accordingly, and to use standardized templates and logos.
If done effectively, your company will turn your staff, board, and even customers into “brand ambassadors” who will, in turn, do much of your marketing for you.
As we’ve seen, branding is an ongoing and iterative process. However, it is still good practice to periodically make deliberate efforts to strategically rebrand your company or products. Bright Endeavors, a member of REDF’s portfolio of social enterprises, recently underwent a rebranding effort. Let’s learn from their process to see how they approached doing so.
- Analyze sales velocity data for past three years (since current branding launch in 2013), as well as in singular channels (ie, direct to consumer via website, wholesale, custom). Understand what sells best? What sells worst? How do weighted sales of these particular scents affect our overall profit margin?
- Gather feedback from wholesale customers about what sells & why. Survey target customers on preferences for scent, look, messaging that resonates.
- Meet with fragrance manufacturer to discuss trends and get expertise on what might work. Determine which scents to replace or tweak. Explore new seasonal items to complement existing range.
- Test, test, test! Internally and externally. Get feedback from real people.
- Decide on look & new scent direction. Work with designer on label and packaging options. Found pro bono work from retired product marketer with strong manufacturer connections.
- Begin production, including new product photography. Send samples to all key accounts, launch on website with PR & social media campaign.
Obviously, this is just one social enterprise’s way of doing it and doesn’t have to be yours. But it does reveal some of the key steps in the process and, importantly, the time commitment it requires. However, as we can see above, the results can be impressive.