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Phase 4: Brand Development

Now that you have established the brand attributes, positioning statement and promises, you are prepared to design a logo or other elements needed to give a physical presence to the brand.

•  If at all possible, you should test early versions of you logo and signage with customers.

•  Work to simplify the design and message so customers can quickly grasp what you are trying to communicate.

•  Once a logo and design elements are approved, work on a graphic standards manual which can be used in training sessions.

•  Finalize menu items, offerings and prices for the location.

•  Prepare a communication plan with a launch strategy that specifies needs such as signage, menu boards, merchandising, uniforms etc. The communication plan should also include a budget.

 

Phase 5: Implementation

Based on your timeline in Phase 1, begin implementation of the brand at your location. This should include formal training of team members on the meaning of the new brand, an understanding of its “brand promise” and the appropriate use of graphics used to present it (your graphics become your physical brand ambassadors).

 

Phase 6: Communication

This phase includes establishing a communications plan and any promotional and other efforts to build awareness  of your brand and its presence in your department, division, university, and peer organizations if necessary. This is important as it is the primary way you will build enthusiasm about the brand among your team members and customers. The brand’s marketing plan should be updated annually so you have consistent and continuous communication throughout the year.

 

Phase 7: Strengthening the Brand Promise

Now that your brand is fully developed and ready for business, you need to make sure that you keep the promises you have established and have strategies in place to address and recover from any broken brand promises as quickly as possible. A few methods used to maintain consistency include:

•  Developing research such as monthly intercept interviews and mystery shopper surveys to assess progress in terms establishing the brand perceptions you are aiming to establish

•  Work with team members to review procedures for “reputation recovery” in cases where brand promises are inadvertently broken.

•  Review of key reports and data to assess progress

• Conducting brand audits semi-annually or annually

•  Providing the resources and training to team members to help them ensure brand consistency over time.

I

f you think that undertaking this process will require more time, energy and resources than you can devote to it, consider the cost that is entailed by a brand failure. Assuring success in brand development requires investing adequate time in brand research, planning and execution. Brands are a foundational tool that positions your organization in the minds of your customers and peers.

Finally, here are a few things to keep in mind before you begin any branding project:

•  Branding is NOT a project of the marketing department or of any single individual. Branding is a team project and requires buy-in and participation from all members your group! All phases should be communicated to each other and approved by the stakeholders and decision-makers.

•  Seek to retain flexibility. Changes in a branding plan will always be necessary as situations or available resources change. A well thought-out plan will still be able to maintain brand promises and graphic standards.

•  Consistent and continuous brand audits and research help in keeping the brand promise.

•  Many stakeholders and decision-makers will have an better understanding of the bran proposal if you present your ideas visually, using a PowerPoint presentation. If possible, take photos of locations and use Photoshop to show how the  location might potentially look once the branded elements are added.

•  Depending on the complexity of a brand initiative, the introduction process can take anywhere from a single month to a full year.

•  If you have questions or need branding advice/help, use the marketing resources available from associations such as NACUFS.

Sojo Alex is an Associate of Envision Strategies, a consultancy specializing in strategic planning and operations consulting for food service, hospitality and retail enterprises. Prior to joining Envision, she was the Brand Manager for Culinary Services at Michigan State University.