by Rob Stam
15 years ago I had a job that required spending several days a month traveling around the country. GPS systems in rental cars were new and I always paid the extra 8 dollars to add one. Countless times however, I found myself lost while the GPS could only connect to two satellites. Perhaps you can relate.
GPS systems work because of a process called triangulation. By accurately measuring the distance from a single point to three different known locations, one can accurately locate the position of that initial single point. When your car loses contact with one of those three satellites you become lost as a result.
Triangulation can also be applied to branding. There are three different connection points you have with the market place. When you effectively connect using all three, you can successfully navigate your business towards your target customers and not get “lost” in the sea of competition. The three satellites of branding are your visual brand, social brand, and physical brand.
Visual Branding entails anything people see that represents your business. This can be your logo, signs, ads, videos–anything. Visual branding has the greatest market reach as you can deploy in it innumerable places. Additionally, visual branding communicates who you are as an organization the fastest. People can look at your business card and gain insight into your services, your values, and even your caliber of excellence before they blink.
While visual branding is based on one-way communication from you to your target audience, your Social Branding is built around conversation. It’s been said for years that “The best advertising is word of mouth advertising.” This statement will never stop being true, so it’s important that you fully appreciate the power of social branding, especially in our highly connected society. With the multitude of social media outlets available today, you now have the ability to be more strategic with your social branding efforts while also being able to measure their effectiveness. But it’s important to remember that the nature of social branding is conversational, so you must be engaged and not just use it as a platform to sell your features and benefits by posting ads. Beyond social marketing, don’t neglect the tried and true methods of social branding. Make sure you stay active in your community and emphasize customer service so the word of mouth comments remain positive. Social branding is all about relationships-whether in real life or in the virtual world.
Physical Branding is perhaps the most ignored piece of corporate branding strategies. This is the manner in which people engage directly with your company and products. It can occur in your office, retail store, trade-show booth, through a personal interaction with your staff, or with your physical product. Developing a strong physical brand will involve everything from interior design to product packaging to personnel training. Great physical brands create loyalty, which motivates people to engage in social branding on your behalf. Make sure when people physically encounter your business, the experience clearly resembles your other branding efforts.