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The 5 Dimensions of Brand Definition in Strategic Brand Planning

Jun 11, 2008
Many companies start from humble beginnings and grow organically without any solid plans for brand development. As these companies reach a certain point in their growth, they often come to realize that, in order to break through to the next level, they must proactively define their brand. Without taking this important step, these companies risk stagnating and failing to break through to higher brand awareness.

The development of a solid brand begins with a discovery phase, in which the company reviews its strategic materials, conducts consumer research, and conducts manager interviews to collect information about what the company stands for and where it is headed.

After the discovery phase, the company can move on to the brand definition phase. This entails a structured set of meetings held among a core team of senior managers from diverse functional areas. This Brand Team reviews the findings from the discovery phase, brainstorms elements of the new brand, and generates commitments throughout the company to abide by the Team's decisions.

Here are the 5 dimensions of brand definition that are essential steps in building a successful brand:

1. Develop a vision for your brand: The vision for a brand consists of a broad statement of what the brand aspires to be. The vision should take a long-term perspective, in recognition of the fact that building a powerful brand does not happen in weeks or months. A solid brand vision defines the business in terms the customer can understand and relate to. It must be original, motivational and inspiring. And, the vision must get buy-in by senior management if it is to be successfully implemented.

2. Position your brand in order to differentiate yourself from competitors: Brands are multidimensional in that they usually carry with them a number of images and associations in the minds of the company and customers. However, all successful brands have a particular focus that differentiates it from those of competitors. A properly-positioned brand must transcend demographics and clearly identify likely prospects. The Brand Team identifies prospects based on which needs and motivations the brand addresses.

3. Create a personality for your brand: Ultimately, your brand must be something with which people can identify. It has to have its own personality, its own character. Your brand will likely evolve over time, but its essential character should endure.

4. Articulate the benefits your brand delivers to customers: In time your brand must come to represent a set of functional benefits in the minds of your prospects and customers. Thus, during brand definition your team must clearly articulate the set of benefits - the value - that it represents to customers. It is important to note that strong brands also carry with them a set of emotional associations. The emotional benefits of a brand are often supported by the functional benefits, and they form the basis of the brand's positioning.

5. Define the values your brand represents: Finally, your brand must represent a particular set of values. This is because your target customer base is composed of human beings, and humans are value-motivated. If you successfully articulate the values your brand represents, you have a better chance of getting customers to associate the values of your brand with their own values. Value definition can create long-term bonds between your brand and your target customers.

When your company decides it is ready to put the effort into developing its brand it should start by undertaking the processes of brand discovery and brand definition. Every brand definition process, in turn, should include developing a vision, determining effective positioning, creating a brand personality, articulating the benefits of the brand, and defining the values that your brand represents.
About the Author
Hart Weichselbaum has worked with some of the biggest brands around. Contact him at www.PlanningPractice.com to find out how he can help you initiate a strategic brand planning campaign with your company.
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