Embrace Your Brand: The Basics of Establishing Brand Identity

Nike is cool, Red Bull is fun and hip, and Harley-Davidson speaks to the rebellious soul.

While each brand is unique, the commonality is a strong identity. There may be shoes, energy drinks and motorcycles that perform (or taste) better, yet each of the brands has found a way to make an emotional connection with its target market. Has yours?

Regardless of what you’re selling, effective branding creates a demand that goes beyond the products themselves. Establishing a brand identity requires corporate soul-searching to determine the following:

* What your company values about itself – does your corporate culture value innovation? Shaking up the status quo? Setting trends? Putting quality first? Get a line on your company’s “stance,” and build off of it.
* What is the “story” of your brand? The Banana Republic clothing store chain began with a single store and a catalog that attracted customers by providing a description linking each garment with an exotic locale. Making a purchase gave customers a vicarious bit of adventure in addition to enhancing their wardrobe.
* How you see your company’s role in fulfilling your customers’ emotional needs – after all, a motorcycle is just a mode of transportation – try telling that to a Harley owner.
* What basic message do you want your brand to convey? Nike’s “Just do it” directly addresses an active lifestyle. One sentence – focused message.

Once you’ve determined what your brand is about, stay consistent. Building a brand requires time. Embrace your brand and consumers will embrace you.

Cutting-Edge Collateral

Just as you bring to market exciting new products that inspire customers to buy, remember the importance of also providing them with exciting new collateral to generate enthusiasm while conveying the vital information about product features and specs. Because every corporate pocket folder package, brochure, handout and sell sheet represents a significant investment, make sure you achieve maximum success with effective collateral materials.

The days when a brochure of product photos and bullet points was enough to generate customer interest are long gone in today’s fiercely competitive market. Collateral must now be consistent with your product and corporate image while extending the brand identity. The best collateral is a well thought-through element of a total integrated marketing program. Each piece should reinforce your branding/advertising campaign by carrying through its distinctive theme, graphical style and colors. In this way, your collateral carries through the energy of your print ads and packaging.

As with every other aspect of your business, it helps to be flexible. On-demand printing allows you to quickly update your printed materials as product lines change. Variable printing lets you tailor collateral for each customer, from direct mailings to personalized marketing. Collateral can also be posted on the Dealers Only section of your website, able to be downloaded as a PDF and printed out from a desktop printer on an “as needed” basis.

Burning print collateral to a CD or DVD expands distribution possibilities by eliminating the bulk of paper. Because digital media can accommodate significantly more information than a single print piece, the disc itself can become a valuable presentation instrument for your company, providing recipients with corporate history, highlights and interactive features (music on CD; music and video on DVD) in addition to product information. Take the opportunity to include the articles, advertorial features and new product profiles that have run in magazines for a pumped-up “wow” factor that showcases your position in the industry.

By working both harder and smarter, cutting-edge collateral sharpens your company’s competitive edge.

Maximizing Your Trade Show Experience

Your company spends a great deal of time and money on trade shows, but do these investments pay off in increased business? Proper coordination from planning through follow-up will draw more traffic to your booth and seal the deal with new customers. Here are proven tips from our trade show experts:

Before the show

* Set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible) goals – research the show, know the audience, determine your objectives and plan your exhibit strategies.
* Hold meetings to be sure everyone working the event is informed and establish ground rules for expectations.
* Send pre-show mailers inviting current customers, potential customers and members of the media to visit your booth.
* Set appointments with current and potential customers before the show starts – you can’t expect business to just come to you.
* Take advantage of pre-show and on-site promotions through the show organizers.
* Coordinate staff clothing so that the entire team is easy to identify.
* Designate an in-house point person to handle all logistics, such as hotel reservations, airfare, freight, etc. Keep detailed and organized files for reference.
* Participate in the media room by providing media kits for the press.

During the show

* Research your competitors – evaluate their products, exhibits and literature.
* Be sure that booth team members greet visitors, answer their questions knowledgably and direct them to the products or services you want to promote.
* If the venue has a media room, be sure the point person visits daily to ensure media kit availability.
* Take pictures of your booth and keep on file for reference.

After the show

* Conduct a post-show survey for staff.
* Follow up by disseminating information gathered at the booth to the sales team and track leads.
* Consistently track results from show-to-show, year-to-year.

Presented by EVOK Advertising, an agency specializing in consumer electronics. To learn more, visit us at www.evokadvertising.com.