Keep your Brand Alive: Nine tips for effective brand management

Marketing and advertising succeed best when they reflect core values of a singularly defined brand. Every touch point of your brand should refer back to the core essence of your brand.

Where your brand “lives” most of the time can vary depending on industry and business type, but it should “live” in a space that’s both accessible and adaptable. Here are some tips that can help you define that space:

1. Determine the brand “position.” Know your company and your core values. Is there a unique value proposition? What is the primary product benefit, lifestyle advantage, or convenience gain? What’s the “story”?

2. Explore the competitive environment. Use differentiation in a category for one goal—giving consumers a reason to act. From the perspective of the brand, ask: What makes me special? Do I inspire trust? Do I connect emotionally?

3. Settle on a hierarchy. Information organization is a critical element wherever your brand may appear. Analyze, organize, and prioritize all the messages you want to convey—and keep that hierarchy consistent.

4. Make one element the hero. Determine what is the most important single idea to communicate about your product. If you’re going to “own” something, what is that something?

5. Keep it simple. Successful brand management is often an exercise in constraint. Limit marketing claims and benefit statements to two or three so as not to confuse customers.

6. Manage stakeholder expectations. Expect some stakeholders to be overly keen on marketing or advertising ideas that dilute the brand. Remind them of the differences in these disciplines, and explain how living brands grow and mature.

7. Communicate value visually. Consumers want confirmation that the choices they make are good ones. Use design elements that will best communicate attributes, equities, sensations, feelings, and emotional associations, and textures.

8. Be mindful of category-specific rules. Each retail and service category has its own conventions. Some are unbreakable, but others are important because bucking them can set a new brand apart.

9. Plan for the future. A brand that is flexible enough to extend to other categories confirms a strong a core brand identity. Test the versatility of your brand by applying it to new products and to new categories.

Each of these nine tips are only jumping off points for deep dives that can help you discover the values of your business and your brand— and realize its potential.