Brand management for companies, products and games

Living the brand and getting your employees to be brand ambassadors:
Branding is more than a logo and tagline of a company or a product/game. It is the company’s promise, the company’s DNA. It is what people see and understand about a company and a product/game ~ the company’s image, reputation, and what they stand for. It is built over a period of time, with the company’s employees working together as ambassadors of the brand strategy. Brand management requires a long-term commitment and willingness to invest in understanding customer behavior, perception, and needs as well as understanding market trends, pressures, and attitudes. It also requires a conscious effort to manage all aspects of the brand through company communications and activities.
This is really hard, do not underestimate it!
So here are some tips for success on managing your brand:
1.      Define precisely your brand.
What is your brand position? Your brand promise? Your brand story? What are your brand traits?
2.      Develop a brand guideline book.
This documents all of the brand definitions above and acts as a guide for employees to execute on the brand promise. Every employee should have one. Every new employee should get one. Everyone should use it. Make it part of the welcome pack.
3.      Get employee participation and roll it out with fanfare.
Educate your employees on the importance of the branding process. Let them see how building brand awareness, brand perceived quality, and brand loyalty requires their help. Emphasize that they must self-monitor and follow their guideline book religiously reinforcing to each other the importance of always supporting—and NEVER detracting from—the brand. Do all of this with the launch-enthusiasm you give to rolling out new products and services to the market.
Remember that above all consistency is the name of the game…and make it fun! If you are familiar with gamification (the use of game mechanics to make people enjoy and perform activities that are not fun), it is then time to have a gamification strategy and make it fun and engaging for everyone in the company. It is also very important to make contractors aware of this program so that everyone speaks the same language.
Perceived Quality
Perceived quality is the heart of what clients are buying. It directly links to the clients’ reason to buy and price sensitivity. Whether the brand is a price brand or a prestige brand, perceived quality is often one of the key differentiators. This was very true for me when I worked for a very big company selling consumer electronics products. Once a potential customer would enter any large distributor shop around the world, he/she would be in front of many products from different companies and all very similar. Branding and the quality perceived around the brand was the asset, the element that would make the difference for the prospect to purchase from us versus from a competitor.
Brand quality perception will be built through:
Voice of authority program
• Becoming a standard through partnership with associations
Perceived quality can be measured through regularly scheduled client and market surveys.
• Audit
Community (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, all social media platforms, blogs and forums)
Feedback from customers
Measurement of all invitees to specific events and references to our brand
Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty is the measurement of commitment a client has to the brand. It is much less expensive to retain customers than to attract new ones. Companies must find a balance in their branding efforts that build awareness and loyalty in parallel. Once a customer is hooked to a brand, in any sector (internet or offline), that person will continue to buy from their favorite brand forever. My grandmother, for example always bought from the same consumer electronic company until she died (a week before her sudden death, she had just bought a huge TV center without even looking at competitors’ products).
Brand loyalty will be built through:
• Community management (especially in gaming communities)
Voice of authority program
• Always adding value to customers
Brand loyalty will be measured by:
• Retaining customers – specific loyalty programs for customers
Brand audit and check blogs and forums
Through audit from associations (specific by markets)
• Invitations to events as recognized experts
Brand Awareness
Brand awareness measures client perception and attitude towards a brand. Studies show that when a purchasing decision is made, familiar brands will have the edge. Again as above, why do we buy a brand versus another one? The experience around that brand makes a difference and this is why it is so important.
Brand awareness will be built through:
• Community management (especially in gaming communities)
Blog/forums involvement
Added value events (internal and external)
Brand awareness can be measured by:
Using the community (and its involvement)
• Increased sales
Brand Associations and Management
Brand association is the dimension that most people think of when they consider the meaning of branding. These associations would include products, a company spokesperson, a particular symbol/logo, a piece of music, a slogan, and finally… a personality. Through associations a brand communicates who it is, what it does, and how it does it.
Brand associations will be designed to work together, be used consistently, and be given enough time to have an impact. These elements will be defined and documented in the Brand Style Guide section of the Brand Guideline book and will be used religiously by every employee. Each employee will be a brand ambassador to promote and encourage the branding process and hold each other accountable.
Measurement for brand association usage will be done through:
Quarterly audits of company materials, communications, processes, etc.
Voice of authority document (i.e. are we invited to talk at conferences? …)

Branding is an exercise that should be handled by a third-party company, at least when the work starts. Third party companies will not be emotionally involved and will therefore allow a more honest and precise analysis of the brand. Once the brand guideline handbook is finished, the work needs to continue and be monitored. The company can take over and put in place a community management team whose priority will be to manage customers and potential prospects.
This work is fascinating because you can really see a difference between a company that manages its brands and one that does not.

I highly encourage you to start working on your brands!