Below are the seven essential steps to build a brand, steps which need to be carefully managed and seamlessly integrated.
1. Strategy and Analysis
Identify who your potential consumers are, and based on an analysis of their demographics and psychographics, how best to target them. What is your audience’s sentiment and psychological mindset? Consumers are concerned for their own well-being and that of their families, not to mention of our society and our planet. Ultimately who they are and how they think determines how you position your brand for success.
Importantly, what does your product offer that existing products do not? This is your ‘Unique Selling Proposition’, something singular about your product – whether it’s related to pricing or value add – that will make consumers choose it above all others.
An in depth analysis of the market is also essential. What is the size of the market and who are your major competitors?
Understanding these insights and gathering research about your target market, shoppers and consumers is a critical component of this stage and affects all the other stages of your brand market cycle. A strong brand strategy is developed once thorough research is conducted.
2. Forecasting and Procurement
With a clear understanding of the market, developing an accurate forecast and budget to determine the stock requirements and ordering periods of your products is fundamental. Ensuring that your product is proficiently cleared and on time through customs, and then forwarded into your distribution channel is next on the cards.
Logistics, storage and distribution are important factors in building your route to market; it entails the movement of your stock from the warehouse to the retailers, independent and alternate channels. Challenges include minimising returns and managing the shelf life of the product with the ultimate goal of ensuring the product reaches its destination on time in prime condition. Your distribution choices, must tie in closely with your planned target channels.
Sales and merchandising involves far more than simply packing product in store – it entails managing shelf space and ensuring continuous availability of products for your consumer as well as ensuring that you are able to respond timeously to orders. It is also important to monitor competitor activity – for example, to ensure that your pricing is market relevant. Sales and merchandising also ensures promotional compliance of the agreed space with retailers, as well as the success of your in store marketing activations.
It is critical at this stage and the stage above to ensure that marketing, communications and promotions are aligned with stock levels in store otherwise consumers who are driven to purchase will be let down and the reputation of your brand will diminish.
5. Key Accounting
It’s crucial that as a brand owner, you are able to engage regularly with your customers. Interactions need to take place on terms that are favourable to both parties, and the service level agreements are compliant to both parties. Promotional deals and additional space are essential tools in increasing product sales and this is negotiated with your customers.
Information gathering is central to many of these activities, this entails processing sales data, and insights, in order to garner information that will help you improve performance, maintain service levels, target the correct shoppers and contribute to growing your brands.
7. Branding and Marketing
Branding and marketing ensures there is a demand for your product. During this stage, the strategic insights and information garnered during the other steps in the cycle (such as analysis and information gathering) can be harnessed in order to build a brand that consumers recognise and which resonates with them.
To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact. Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence.
A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It's important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all your entire brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. It's a foundational piece in your marketing communication strategy.
Brand owners also need to ensure a 360-degree communications plan that executes across multiple touch points – seamlessly and all at the same time. Your brand must speak with one cohesive voice across channels – trade marketing, point of sale, web, social media, advertising, promotions, public relations and creative branding. As many brand owners know, integrating just these providers is no easy task; however a 360-degree approach is proven to drive even further brand success. To ensure success you will need partners who understand that cooperation and integration is essential, partners who work towards a common goal: brand success.
It’s clear that each of these stages requires input from experts in order to operate smoothly and efficiently. But, while each requires specific knowledge, they cannot operate in isolation. As a brand owner you will do well to select a company to assist you in each stage; a company that understands the challenges associated with every stage in the cycle. Tightly integrating these stages will significantly increase your brands profile and chances of continued success.
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