The United States hired its first brand manager earlier this year. It also launched ‘Brand USA,’ a brand initiative and marketing campaign aimed at international travelers. Brand USA is designed to entice those travelers to “Discover America,” by showing them the many different aspects of the nation.
The campaign has drawn criticism as well as praise. The images are beautiful, the song is inspirational, but some say that it lacks an effective call-to-action and that the multitude of images dilutes the experience into a meaningless hodgepodge. Only time—and dollars—will tell if the campaign was successful.
The thing to remember about Brand USA is the ad communicates a branded message to the rest of the world. Each landscape, activity or person shown is part of that brand. And that brand defines the experience America wants an international traveler to have when vacationing in The States. It’s about inspiration, wonder, interests, and unforgettable memories.
There are two important lessons here. One is that having a brand is essential in successful marketing. The second is that a well-crafted brand is a lot more than a name and a logo.
Your company has a brand, whether you realize it or not. Your brand is the collective emotional response consumers have when they think about your company. And every aspect of your business—from your logo’s colors to your customer service skills—creates an impression in a consumer’s mind. These impressions create the emotional response, thus the brand. But there are things you can do to create positive impressions and foster “brand equity” with consumers. Before you can build brand equity with consumers, you need to identify your brand—who your company is—and then foster and promote that brand across every business touchpoint.
To identify your brand, you’ll need to ask yourself, “Who are we?” Invite employees to this discussion, too. Your IT guy might have a very different idea of your company’s identity than your package designer, or your sales representative. How and why they differ is an important part of identifying your core brand personality. Are you a no-nonsense, button-up corporation; a super-hip, totally trendy company always on the cutting edge; an easy-going, dogs-in-the-office and afternoon table tennis tournaments kind of place? Or some combination of these? What are your core values as a company? And what is it that makes you unique? Just as important, what words do your customers associate with your company? What keywords do they use to search for your products? All of these help identify your brand.
When you have a clear vision of who and what your company is, you need to insure the messaging is consistently presented across every touchpoint of your company. Review your logo, website, packaging, customer service scripts, SEO keywords, etc. Apply your white-hot branding iron to any touchpoint lacking your brand’s signature. Now that your company is branded like a steer in Texas, you’re ready to spread the word! Engage consumers through traditional, digital and social media, and invite them to discover the new Brand You.