You know, when you begin talking about “brand names” and all the advertising and hoopla that goes along with them, most people start rolling their eyes with impatience - and for good reason. We‘re constantly bombarded these days with “brand” messages - heck, we even wear them on our clothing. The commercials we watch, hear, and read have become just another part of the landscape for most of us - part of the daily background noise we must wade through in the course of our lives.
And yet ... there‘s a point to all of it because - believe it or not - it works. That steady drumbeat, be it from fast food joints or soda pop makers, keeps the brand name lodged in out consciousness so when we go to eat or drink, there it is, in living color, subtly influencing our choices.
(And making us fat, I might add: too bad ‘broccoli‘ and ‘regular exercise‘ don‘t have the same high level Madison Avenue help McDonald‘s and Coca-Cola do!)
For truckers, all this stuff boils down to keeping your brand name alive in the minds of shippers - a brand name that should be synonmous with on-time delivery and highway safety - so when they need to move freight, your name is in the forefront of their mind when they pick up the phone (or send an email).
Jim Walton, president of Indianapolis, IN-based PR firm Brand Acceleration knows all about this - and writes a regular online newsletter addressing branding issues. He knows his stuff, so I am going to share his much wiser thoughts on this subject. Jim, the floor is yours:
“Building the brand in the consumer‘s mind is one thing. Positioning it in the heart of consumers is another. There is much more to branding than just creating an attractive logo or an inexpensive brochure. Without discovering what will resonate with target audiences, companies often communicate a message that means little or nothing to the people who might purchase their goods or services. Simply put, they don‘t believe it! Strong brands are emotionally connected, resulting in a trust that leads to long-term customer relationships and that competitors find hard to crack.
Now, let‘s assume that by now you have conducted some formal or informal benchmarking research to identify just what your brand represents. You‘ve established a clear and concise message strategy and standards to follow in your tactical effort. Great! Now what?
At this point, it‘s important to understand that your brand is a living, breathing thing that resides in the mind of your customers, prospects, and staff. If you feed it and care for it on a daily basis, it will serve you well. If you ignore it, it will become weak and die.
Here‘s why: People forget. If your target audience isn‘t fed a consistent and on-going positive message about your company, products, and services, time and competitive efforts will eventually take their toll.
Consider great brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald‘s. Do you think they advertise because they want us to know about the great properties of colored water and sugar or burgers and fries? No! They are constantly feeding the brand in order to hold onto their position in the mind of the consumer. Coke is the “Real Thing” and you‘re “Lovin‘” McDonald‘s.
It‘s crucial to develop an annual marketing communications plan that identifies key audiences and consistently and repeatedly conveys a believable brand message that your employees can deliver. A powerful tactical plan communicates a consistent and convincing message through several channels that support one another. Media advertising, e-newsletters, direct marketing, brochures, blogs, web sites, and trade shows, to name just a few, are all valuable pieces of an integrated tactical plan. Even with a limited budget, it‘s very important to set a priority and do something. Otherwise you have a beautiful business card and a web site that is nothing more than cyber driftwood. You‘ve gotta do something.
Remember, brands are like pets. If you feed them, groom them, and love them, they‘ll love you right back!”