Building Your Brand
I recently gave a speech to a group of startup business owners. This group of entrepreneurs hosts a series of speeches, with a different business topic covered each month. My topic was Building Your Brand. Those who know me well know that this is not a core competency of mine– building a brand is better left to marketers. However, I am well versed in building a company’s legal rights in its brands.
As I explained to the group, working with brands requires a great deal of strategy. The first step with almost any strategic plan is to know your objectives. In the case of brands, what unique symbols/designs/words do you want to use to draw the attention of your customers for the next several
years and decades? Next, you need to determine how you plan to get there. This requires an understanding of the environment you plan to operate in and knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Finally, you should form a plan and execute it.
When it comes to building the strength of a brand, steps two and three are where I can add the most value. While I can review a business’s plan to determine the brands that might be most important to the business, this information is often provided to me. Once this is determined I can perform searches to provide a risk assessment and look for paths forward to enhance your brand rights. I can then begin the work of actually building your rights in your brands.
Who Is Your Audience?
One example I used during my speech was McDonald’s. There are literally thousands of ways to run a hamburger restaurant. McDonald’s has a few specific target audiences and makes it easy for those consumers to find them. One group that McDonald’s caters to is travelers. You can see this both by the way they operate, and by how they market. From an operations perspective they frequently build restaurants near highway exits, have fast service, provide disposable containers and have good bathrooms.
From a marketing perspective, they create a funnel of brands to draw customers to them. They place their golden arches up high so you know which exit to use and which side of the exit the restaurant is on. Once you’re off the exit, the red and yellow colors of the roadside sign help you spot the restaurant, and as you drive closer you can read “McDonald’s.” Pulling into the parking lot you’ll notice the expected shape of the restaurant. Inside the store the layout will seem familiar, as will the names of menu items such as Big Mac or McNuggets. These symbols serve a specific marketing purpose and are very valuable to McDonald’s. They became valuable through McDonald’s adoption and consistent use of these unique items.
Questions To Ask When Building Your Brand
Look to your future. Who is your target audience? What are you doing to market to them? What unique symbols are you using to make your business recognizable to your preferred consumer? You should begin consistently using these items right now to create the traction in the marketplace you want to have. When you’ve determined your preferred customer, you know where to find them and have plans to attract their attention. You have even found convenient ways for them to conduct business with you.
This is where branding and marketing become very important. As a very quick explanation, branding helps your customers identify you whereas marketing tells the story of your company. Looking at branding, you want to make sure you use unique items to identify your company. This keeps customers from confusing you with a competitor. You also want to use your brands consistently. This reminds customers of your business.
Branding is essentially an incredible shortcut. It allows customers to identify companies quickly, which makes the markets very efficient. The law recognizes this benefit and protects a company’s exclusive right to use their brand. This exclusive right of course means that competitors cannot use similar brands. This also means that there is risk when you adopt a new brand—the risk that your new brand may be too similar to an existing brand.
I help companies assess this risk. I can conduct a search to review the rights that other companies have, and to see how likely it is that your brand would cause confusion in the market. The most popular of these searches only costs $400.