5 steps to make your branding campaign work!

Branding is hard. It takes a long time to have success with it. For that reason, most businesses don’t do it properly. I’ve met manyof managers that say they’ve tried branding campaigns with no success. I don’t doubt that they have tried, but usually they’ve made a fatal error in carrying out the strategy. Here’s a rough guideline to making sure your branding campaign is successful.

Firstly, let’s talk about what “branding” is. Branding your business with advertising is the process of promoting a company image by bridging all of your messages together under one theme. There are many different ways to do it right. In general, good branding campaigns make people say, “Oh I know them, they’re the guys that ________________.” Filling the blank is the most important part of building your brand. It could be your Unique Selling Proposition (the one thing your business does that other businesses don’t.) But, more often than that, it’s a simple theme that your ads run under. Think of campaigns like the Geico talking gecko, Old Spice ads, and the Maytag repair man. They bridge it across every medium to the point that when we hear the cockney accent in a radio commercial, we know it’s a gecko talking to us for Geico. Good branding implants your companies name in people’s brains. It sounds kind of evil eh? Anyways, here’s some steps to help you carry it out successfully.

Have a great message – Nothing will work well in advertising unless the message connects with a need that the listener has. The message also needs to be interesting. If your idea of a good brand is to say that you’ve had “40 years in business with the best service available,” you’re doing it wrong. That message is too dull and overused. Nobody will remember you for that. People remember the extraordinary. Be special. Stand out or become part of the wallpaper.

Stay the course – When you have that one fantastic message created use it. I know that sounds very obvious, but the truth is most businesses get bored with their own advertising in a hurry. You need to make sure your message gets out there. That means using each singular advertisement for a long time. Don’t change your creative every couple of weeks. In radio, if you have good frequency your message will not burn out for at least 3 months in a good branding campaign. It may be closer to six. Don’t have five commercials made up a month. It will only cloud your brand. Make sure you get a good foothold with your creative. Ride that horse until it dies before you replace it. In general it will last 75% longer than you think it will. Listeners don’t single out your advertising the way you do. It takes much longer for them to get the picture. Ease them into your brand by not changing the message too often.

Don’t veer off topic – When I say “don’t change the message” I mean it. You can make an infinite number of commercials under a good brand. But, the message needs to remain the same or you’ll lose sight of your brand. That means every single commercial you make must fit under the image you’ve created. You would never see a red UPS truck would you? No, they are brown. They will always be brown. That’s how people know them. The same needs to be true with your advertising. Every commercial must fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Every commercial in every medium must match. That’s branding.

Consistent frequency – Branding isn’t a magic trick. It needs to be backed up by a good media buy. You can build the most interesting commercials with the most creative brand message out there, but if you don’t have it play often enough it won’t have the success you want. To be honest, if you have a small budget, you shouldn’t try branding. It won’t be very effective for you unless you can afford to get it out there often and consistently. Consistency is very important with frequency. Once you have the ball rolling, don’t let it stop. If you quit your branding campaign for a month you’ll lose the equity you’ve already gained in a hurry. People forget quickly. Stopping a branding campaign kills it. Everybody knows what Coke is, but they still keep their foot on the pedal by advertising consistently. Your business is no different. Consistency in frequency relates to how you buy stations as well. You should only buy as many radio stations as you can afford to dominate. Don’t spread your message thin among all of the stations in your market. Own one completely. As your business and your brand grow add others. Never stop your message or you will lose everything you’ve worked so hard to gain.

Be patient and wait – This is where most business owners sink their branding campaigns. They expect immediate results. That’s not how it works. It probably won’t show much of an effect for at least 6 months, and that’s if you’ve carried out all of the previous steps correctly. It takes time to build a good brand. But, all too often a good branding campaign is cancelled prematurely. The next week a “big sale ad” goes on for immediate effect. Think of it this way, a sale add is like a weed. It’ll grow quickly, but it’s also unsightly. Nobody respects a sales ad, and nobody wants weeds. A great branding campaign is like growing an oak tree. It takes a lot of nourishment. It grows slowly. But, once you have it, its value only increases. Do you want weeds or an oak tree?

I know it’s hard to sit back and wait. And yes, it will cost a lot of money to build your company into a great brand. It’s like an RRSP for your business. The more you put into it, the more equity you’ll gain. The most valuable thing your advertising can do is put your business on your listeners shopping list. The better your brand, the better your business will be remembered, the higher you’ll be ranked on the listeners shopping list. You won’t need to have a “sale” to entice people to shop with you. They’ll just show up. Hmmmm.... Maybe branding is a bit of a magic trick.