The Marketing Edge

Five Critical Branding Questions

Q: When is the best time to plant an oak tree?
A: Twenty years ago. Or today.

by Bruce Turkel

Mr. Turkel is CEO of Turkel Brands, a full-service, multicultural brand management firm located in Miami, Florida. He blogs regularly on marketing, PR & advertising issues and trends. Visit Turkel Brands. Reprinted with permission.

Happy New Year! 2015 is a brand new year and we’re right in the middle of New Year’s resolution month. That means not enough time has gone by to break the resolutions you’ve already made and there’s still about two weeks left to make some new resolutions.

So right now is the perfect time to resolve to do something about your brand. Sure it would have been great to do something about your brand a few years ago and it would have been good to do something about it last year. But like the proverbial oak tree, it’s never too late to get started and you can’t reap the benefits until you do. Here’s a little list of five critical branding questions you can start on immediately. Make the commitment to work on them consistently and you will start seeing real benefits faster than you imagine.

Who are you?

Step one is so easy to answer yet so hard to do. Simply put, you cannot build an effective persuasive brand until you can clearly identify who you are and what you believe. In our current cynical environment, standing for something cogent, consistent, and conscientious is the way to stand up and stand out. Your authentic self is what your clients and customers are crying out for. Think of brands you respect. Whether they’re multinationals such as Apple, BMW or Illy; personalities such as Rachel Maddow, Bill O’Reilly or Oprah Winfrey; or a local business you frequent and appreciate, they’ve earned your loyalty and respect because they stand for something you can depend on.

Who are your best customers?

you cannot build an effective persuasive brand until you can clearly identify who you are and what you believe

While it is critical to know who you are, it’s just as important to understand to whom you’re selling. Although artists can and do create their products for themselves and then hope they find an appropriate audience to support them and their work, the term “starving artist” exists for a reason.

Where is the intersection between you and your best buyer?

Once you know whom you are and what you stand for and you who your best buyer is and what they care about, the next step is to figure out where they intersect. That is, what is it about you and what you do that makes your best buyers’ lives better? This is much more important – and less common – then you might think. Too many businesses operate on the “if you build it, they will come” strategy without ever stopping to think why anyone will actually show up.

What are the ways you can distribute your message?

It used to be easy to figure out your distribution strategy. There were three TV stations (four if you count PBS), a few magazines, some newspapers, radio and billboards. Plus, you could print your logo on t-shirts and ballpoint pens. Today we’ve got 500 cable channels, social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat; websites and apps and email marketing; podcasts and blogs and vlogs; desktop and mobile; and all the traditional outlets as well. If you’re wondering which are the right media to use, the correct answer is all of them. You never know where your audience is or where they’ll find your message.

How can you make your message 24/7/365?

Your New Year’s resolution should be to not only answer my five critical branding questions but to make your answers a daily part of your business plan and activities. Just like the oak tree, your brand needs to be continually nurtured, fertilized, pruned, and watered. Only then can you enjoy all the benefits that a great brand can provide this year and every year as it grows and grows and grows.