"Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.” - Sir Richard Branson, CEO, Virgin
I'm a Branson fan for many reasons. He's a proven entrepreneurial success, inventive thinker, witty spokesperson and has a beautiful way of getting right to the point when making one. His branding quote resonates with me because it hits on two critical aspects of creating and maintaining a shiny brand: 1) you have to be committed to the process; and 2) you have to appeal to your target customers on a deeper emotional level. Branson also acknowledges that very commitment required can create cynics. (I'd add that cynicism multiplies when there is no performance measurement system in place -- when there is difficulty measuring the value of brand marketing, some companies stop trying, or worse, write it off completely.)
It is not enough to create a beautiful product or successful service. Owners and operators must continually and consistently communicate their brand's value to target audiences and through a variety of channels. In the wine, spirits and culinary industries we serve, all of which require a commitment to hospitality, these audiences consist of consumers, trade and media. Our primary communication channels are in person (tasting room, events, meetings), phone, online and via direct mail. This ultimately means that for our clients, we have a rather complex web of communication to manage or advise upon.
Recently, a new client asked me which communication audiences and tools were most important. He wanted to know which one we would do first, and so on. During the conversation, I realized that he didn't understand the sequential nature of brand communication. I explained that there wasn't a particular order; that in fact, we would be communicating with all audiences using all tools throughout the course of our project.
When I returned to the office that day, I challenged my team to develop a visual representation of our brand building philosophy, and I'm happy to report that I love the result:
The concept of magnetism reflects the necessity of attraction when it comes to marketing. Attraction is a committed state. It represents how successful marketers blend defined process (the science) with creativity (the art), and underscores with the force "squiggles" that is is also an active state.
Management vision and strategy, along with internal team commitment, are found at the bottom to indicate that they are the foundation; without both, the communication will not resonate as it will either lack direction, authenticity or engagement. Media and trade relations are the next building blocks, because they are gatekeepers who offer a way to reach a wider net of followers. The very top reflects the very important nature of consumer ambassadors -- typically your club members, who represent the heart of the operation given their loyal nature and ability to attract more dedicated fans. It is surrounded by the broader guest experience, paid advertising, online marketing and platforms, all of which directly touch consumers.
Our ultimate goal here at Trellis Growth Partners is to create brand magnetism for our clients, which we define as a successful state measured by shining increases in marketing and sales metrics. In my next post, I'll discuss how we label and measure this success.
- Dixie Huey, Proprietor
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