Sometimes this branding thing can get a little complicated. I received and excellent question from Melanie of Vancouver, Canada, on Twitter that I simply couldn’t answer in 140 characters. Her question was this:
If you have a business, brands, then you…which one becomes the real brand to market?
This is a question of brand architecture. How does a brand, a person, and a company all fit together? How do we make this mish-mash understandable and memorable to the people we wish to serve? Melanie, you are not alone in wondering how to make this work. While there are no easy answers, they do become more obvious when you consider not only your goals for yourself and your business, but also how the people you wish to serve will best understand the benefit you, your company and your offerings can provide them.
HEASLEY&PARTNERS has re-architected a number of brand conundrums just like this. I’ll relate just one. Our client invited us to an event and when we arrived it was brand overload! There were three book brands, there was a business brand, an advisory group brand, a personal brand and that was just on the event binder cover! Add to that the banners, the signs, the PowerPoint logo loop and we had brand overload. Everything was the same weight (big) so everything screamed at us. Worst of all, the noise was coming from just one company. They were literally competing with themselves and losing!
When it came time to make sense of all this, we asked the founder what his goals were and what he wanted to achieve with each of these brands. What we discovered was that he wanted to focus on the business, himself as a chief promoter of the business and one of the book brands as the flagship for his philosophy. That’s when we began to architect the project. Of course we always take the Heart & Mind® Branding approach, so we united the brands in a way that connected the philosophy with people, heart-to-heart while achieving his business goals.
Our approach was to elevate the personal brand (the person is well known as a speaker) and place the other brands as their own entities under his “group of companies.” For example, we created “John Doe Companies” as a minimally promoted umbrella brand under which was John Doe (as speaker), ”My Philosophy Learning Center” as the think tank from which sprang the My Philosophy book series, CDs, etc., and then we kept the consulting business “Business & Associates” that uses all of John Doe’s philosophies to help others achieve success. Of course I’m using false names here, but I think you get the idea. Once we did this, each brand had its own purpose in support of the overall philosophy that connected with the heart. Each one also had it’s own business objectives. Each one was positioned and weighted in relation to the others.
The point of all this was to provide a context from which one brand could flow into another and that made logical sense to people inside and outside the company. This only works, however, when the philosophies and the messages are aligned. If the business, brands and person are disjointed, it will be next to impossible to build a brand bridge between each of them. There were a few brands we relegated to simply “methods “or “mentions” within copy. In essence we demoted them as brands entirely.
Once the brands were better defined and in context with each other, it became simple to create the websites, link between them, cross promote and build an overall presence where 1 + 1+ 1 added up to 100 not 3. The confusion was gone and what was left was message clarity, scale and depth of commitment.
What is branding? Heart & Mind® Branding.