CHALLENGES ON BRAND POSITIONING
A couple of days ago, a colleague from the entertainment industry read our service portfolio and visited us at our Mexico City office. Looking confused, and trying to relate our work to her business to see what we could do for her, she told me “I can’t fully understand what Nacione™ does.”
Of course, such an explanation is not an easy one, but in layman’s terms, I told her:
“Nacione™ is a specialized brand consultancy firm. Not only do we focus on designing an identity or visuals. Rather, our objective is to make our client’s brands stronger by developing specific business strategies that increase the company’s brand equity.”
That being said, the concept was clearer to our colleague, but she was still left with some doubt.
In branding, we commonly communicate in the terminology of our area of expertise. However, more often than not, our clients, or CEOs, shareholders, or other decision-makers have difficulty understanding our jargon.
Branding is a very noble field. It sheds light on how brands create emotional rapport with target audiences, meaning that we constantly engage with the deepest of human emotions. It’s not a rampant and meaningless quest for sales, nor is it mass trading in goods or services. We build brands like we would build a house of cards: we need to find a balance between the thinness and fragility of the building blocks and the contextual complexities to make a new and bold product or service offer.
Branding is not creating an eye-catching Keynote, PDF, or PowerPoint, much less designing a set of renders or visual applications exemplifying how to use and not to use a brand.
Top global brands repeatedly spend millions on new branding strategies in short time spans since they control most of their markets and, allegedly, set trends according to the profile of new buyers.
In the case of small and medium brands, spending millions on branding is absolutely out of the question, which pushes them to lower their market profile and use that money to run the business. It’s common for design studios, boutique agencies, specialized local agencies, or global branding consulting firms to create brands by designing their logo, look-and-feel, business stationery, digital platforms and social media content; and delivering brand usage guides to the client. However, these guides often end up in the hands of employees or executives who fail to interpret and implement them properly since things such as audiovisual content creation, printing styles and methods, and programming (in the case of digital platforms) fall outside of their area of expertise.
Hell often breaks lose when brand identity implementation tasks are split among the staff members like slices of pie. For example, financial or sales staff often have little understanding of file extensions such as .jpg (Joint Photographic Group), .png (Portable Networks Graphics) or .psd (PhotoShop Document), to mention a few. The result? Having to hire external designers and consultants, meaning increased operational costs and mistakes in the brand identity’s implementation.
This is the crux of the matter for small and medium businesses, in spite of the fact that may of them have better product and service portfolios than those of top brands.
New buyers (millenials and centennials) are more aware of what they buy, and are showing an increased preference for emerging product and service brands with added value such as environmentally-friendly operations, proper industrial waste management, and, first and foremost, solid soft skills.
New ways of buying and selling are coming, and that’s the largest window of opportunity for small and medium brands, not only in terms of growth, but in actually living up to their raison d’être.
As you may see, branding goes far beyond designing a logo, a couple of renders, and a handful of brand applications. Branding is in fact related to the operational and executive processes of a business, as well as their implementation, and the business’s solid and coherent positioning through its brands. To build trust in business, nothing speaks louder than actually knowing where a product or service came from, and businesses truly walking their talk.