Every organisation needs a creative brand platform to provide guidance for all decisions regarding branding and marketing. Branding is absolutely critical to the success of a company, so it is a very important responsibility. A company needs complete confidence in its brand platform to be able to present themselves to the world in an honest, credible way.
What is a brand platform?
A brand platform is sometimes known as a corporate image, and it is a set of things that customers associate with your brand
In some cases, these associations are very explicit and obvious, like how the car manufacturer Volvo is associated with road safety. In others, the associations are more subtle, like how another car manufacturer like BMW may have associations with safety that are not so explicit.
A brand should choose carefully what it wants to be associated with, and those choices could actually come from a number of sources
For example, one source could be related to the benefits that your target audience will care the most about. However, the associations could also be sourced from the self-image of your target customer, or from a range of descriptors. It could even come from your company’s history, or perhaps a core specialism you have.
When creating a brand platform, the most important factors are authenticity and credibility
Without these things, your brand may as well just be another empty slogan. You need to identify your brand’s ethos; that which dictates your company’s character and has proven itself to differentiate you from the competition. Establishing a robust brand ethos is fundamental to developing a solid brand platform. Once the brand platform is created, you need to ensure everyone in your company can see it – a brand platform document is a good way to achieve this.
What exactly is a brand?
A company’s brand is about more than just its logo
The word originates from shapes being burned onto cows with a hot iron, so that one farmer’s herd can be easily distinguished from another’s. So, in its purest form, branding is all about identity and differentiation. The logo is definitely a part of this, but it is merely a component of a much more complex whole.
A brand is a collection of thoughts, principles and feelings that customers associate with a specific product or service
It is something that exists in the mind of the customer, and it serves to quickly define a business. Most companies you can think of will have certain words that you would associate with them – the stronger a company’s brand is, the easier it is to sum them up in a single sentence.
A brand includes the products and services you offer
It includes your values, your ideas, your personality and your public reputation. It explains the reason why you exist for your customers, and yes, it does include the visual things you present to your audience – that which tells them what they are seeing is about you. A brand platform helps with this, but understand that there is a difference when you consider brand platform vs brand positioning – the former can help the latter, but they are not the same.
What is a brand strategy in marketing?
The world is driven by perceptions, and brands make up the way customer’s perceive your company in terms of credibility, reputation, products and customer experience. It is what makes you stand out from the crowd. A brand strategy is what defines the rules and guidelines on the brand messages you communicate. This includes:
- What the messages are
- How they are communicated
- Where they are seen
- Who sees them
When a brand strategy is well defined and executed with precision, the result is a consistent and powerful brand message. This facilitates a strong and meaningful emotional connection with your customers, along with higher brand equity. It is essential to have a solid brand strategy in place to underline your marketing approaches and enhance your market performance – this is what defines the overall brand platform purpose. If you want name recognition, credibility, effective advertising and inspired, productive employees, you need a quality brand strategy.
How do you create a brand platform?
Building a brand platform means taking a holistic view of your company and establishing a number of foundations. Here are the key components that make up a brand platform – think of it as a rough brand platform template:
- Branding Objectives: These should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-specific) goals for business, marketing and branding to be able to assess progress.
- Interview Insights: Interviewing key stakeholders helps get the most important perspectives that will guide elements of brand strategy.
- SWOT Analysis: SWOT means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Be honest and get a clear picture to understand how your brand fits into the competitive landscape.
- Target Audience: Who do you want to reach with your brand communications?
- Vision: This means all that you aspire to – what do you hope to achieve with your company?
- Mission: Create simple mission statements with the “Verb, Target, Outcome” format.
- Promise: A single sentence that states the honest value your company can credibly make to customers.
- Positioning: What differentiates you from your competitors in the market?
- Tagline: A few words that sum up your entire brand.
- Core Brand Messaging: The important points that all marketing copy should communicate – that which will resonate with your target audience.
- Personality: A short statement describing the soul of your brand – what brand values are important, and what is the experience of interacting with it?
- Tone of Voice: Define the tone of your company’s communications using the “is/is never” template.
With a brand platform in place, you have an essential foundation for success in your marketing and communications. It is a good idea to review your brand platform periodically to ensure it remains relevant and effective. Building your brand is an ongoing process, and you need to listen to your audience to understand how you are perceived over time. It is a methodical and complex process, and with the help of experienced marketing professionals, you can really get the most out of your brand platform development.