Tuesday 31 May 2011

Forming solid brand extensions

When you buy clothes (among other things), there's often a stigma attached. Having that famous swoosh mark on your chest or some recognised celebrity's name seems to add some level of fashion credibility. If that describes you, then you've bought into the brand.

Designer label clothes aren't necessarily any better in terms of quality than some of the cheaper brands, but the emotions, characterisations & persona of that logo follow that item wherever it goes.

Those qualities are the difference between a billion dollar brand and one that struggles to support itself, but they didn't get there just by being good. They relied on mechanics that extended the brand from the product itself to the consumer - carrying with it the emotional and social implications that are built into the brand.

Brand extensions would include anything that's not inherent in the product itself. Anything that's added as a marketing hook or endorsement. The intent is usually to set the product apart from the crowd.

A unique shop front

A celebrity endorsement

Engaging advertising

Your staff / representatives

Unique business cards

A custom brand-focused website

How does this relate to me and my business?

The first step is to define your brand. If you haven't developed a brand or a brand guide, how do you know if you're marketing the right way? If you're developing advertising, what do you use to check that your messaging is in line with the direction and persona of your business? A logo is only the first step to a brand. You need to develop a full brand outline and positioning in order to adequately check back to make sure each piece you create is in line with your core messaging.

Although, price may be a significant consideration for the shop front, advertising & endorsement (unless you personally know a celebrity that would put their face to your brand), there's way around traditional methods and the rest can be achieved with significantly less monetary investment.

The shop front fit-out probably comes down to the type of business you have, as to what is appropriate and impactful to your target audience. Often a fresh coat of paint and a minimal non-cluttered layout is enough to set the right tone for your products to shine.

A celebrity that publicly uses or advocates your product can set an instant public image. Obviously your brand is going to be tied with this person so you want to make sure the background is clean (if that's the image you're trying to portray), and they understand the expected behaviour of the endorsement.

Engaging advertising can be in many forms, but essentially you want to get people talking about it. One person seeing a poster is statistically unlikely to be motivated to action, but if it motivates a conversation in the office kitchen over coffee or with friends at the pub then you've engaged the audience. Even better if you can get media to react - just make sure its the reaction you want.

Do you staff, advocates & representatives dress, speak and conduct themselves in away that extends your brand? Would you be able to determine the persona of your business based on the people that work there? Touch points where a consumer will interact with your business are some of the most important areas to reinforce your brand personality.

Although you can pick up a box of business cards for under $50 these days, what does that really say about who you are and what you have to offer? Unique business cards are things people want to hold onto - like a piece of art. The unusual and interesting sets us apart. The cost comparative to the cheap cards is obviously going to be steep (maybe 25-40 cents per card instead of 4 cents), but what is that contact really worth to you? THe unique aspect may not even be added expense - it may just be a different approach to a regular card. Talk to your designer or printer about what unique options they can offer you.

A custom website is an obvious way of extending your brand, but one that is often not utilised adequately. Just having a website is a great start, and having one that looks nice is even better, but youneed to ask - does your website ooze the personality of your brand? If someone accidentally landed on your site with no knowledge of you, your products or your services - would they be able to capture the emotion, passion & personality that you want to portray as a business? Is it compelling enough for them to then say 'I want that for myself'. If not, you're selling yourself short.


Talk to your local Digerati team in the Sutherland Shire or Northern Beaches today to see how we can work together to make your website an appropriate extension of your brand.