What’s in a brand?
That was the question raised and discussed this morning during an ITEXPO (News - Alert) session featuring Kathleen Reed, director of marketing at Sangoma Technologies, and Rich Williams, president of Connect2 Communications, a public relations and marketing firm.
(For more information on ITEXPO click here or come on down to Hall B in the Miami Beach Convention Center.)
“It’s everything you are, it’s your identity,” Reed answered in response to the question as to what is brand.
What your company views as its identity and outsiders’ knowledge of the brand, however, can be two very different things, said Williams.
Here Williams told a story about a Connect2 client for which his firm interviewed customers to get a sense of how they view the client. Key themes that were identified included reliable, innovative, and trustworthy. While innovation is exciting and grabs headlines, Williams said, to have the trust of your customers is huge, so it’s really important to promote that not only to customers, but also to anyone you’re trying to urge to action, which can include current or potential investors.
The panelists also discussed how a brand can and should evolve over the life of the company. As Williams noted, a company’s promise of value is different when it first launches than it at points along its path, for example, after customers have its solutions deployed.
That said, added Reed, the branding message needs to evolve. But it needs to do so in a way that makes sense and doesn’t create a disconnect with customers and prospects.
Williams also suggested that companies should look at all they have to offer and figure out how they can communicate that value. Some companies may have separate lines of business that might be part of different busy units, but that could be leverage to offer customers added value and could be expressed as such in company messaging.
Speaking of different business units, no matter which part of an organization an employee comes from or in what capacity that person works, it’s important that anyone representing your brand is consistent in the messaging they convey to customers, prospects, partners and the investment community.
While the logo is often the first thing that comes to mind when talking about brand, Williams said a lot of companies are too concerned with logos and taglines, which can be very important in B2C but typically are not so important in B2B.
Edited by Cassandra Tucker