How to Brand - Part 4: Educate People about Your Brand

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Posted Aug 08, 2011
Susan Gunelius

In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the How to Brand series, you learned how to create a brand that people will want to buy. Today, it’s time to learn about brand education. It’s time to take your brand out into the world by educating internal and external audiences about your brand promise, values, message, and image.

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How to Brand

Internal Brand Education

Before you can roll out your brand marketing plan, you need to raise awareness and recognition of your brand, and there is no more important audience to educate when a new brand debuts than the employees who support that brand. If your employees don’t believe in your brand promise, then why should consumers?

Internal brand education is a step that is far too frequently missed in the brand building process. You can’t assume that your employees will instantly understand and support your brand. You need to make them understand it and care about it. After all, your employees are your most powerful brand advocates. Teach them to love your brand and they’ll undoubtedly talk about it, defend it, and spread the word about it with their friends, families, and acquaintances. That’s a lot of people and a lot of positive and free word-of-mouth marketing for your brand. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Employees want to believe in your brand. However, if you exclude them from the brand creation process, it can be hard to get them to buy into the brand promise later. Bring them into the process early with brand education that makes them feel like a vital part of the brand, not an after-thought.

Begin your internal brand education by creating comprehensive brand identity guidelines. Jahaun Umar of Interbrand goes so far as to suggest not only offering brand guidelines and training for internal and external audiences but also creating a brand help desk. Anyway you slice it, internal brand education and buy-in is essential to brand success.

CSC has a great brand education website dedicated to educating people about its brand and offering specific technical guidelines for using the brand name and logo. Employees can log into a private site to learn even more!

Brand Identity Guidelines

Follow the preceding link and read through the pages on the CSC site to see how well the company explains the brand promise, values, message and image. The CSC site is not a 3” thick binder filled with page after page of measurements and warnings. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of those binders, and very few people ever actually read them. It’s also not pretentious or overflowing with buzz words. Instead, it clearly communicates the brand in a transparent manner that people can understand.

The site discusses all of the brand elements included in Part 3 of the How to Brand series as well as a brand video, a description of the brand identity, frequently asked questions, and more. It’s a great resource to benchmark as you create your own brand identity guidelines and brand education materials for your audiences.

External Brand Education

Once your employees are on board with your brand, it’s time to educate external audiences about it. That means you need to educate business partners, vendors, investors, and of course consumers. In other words, there are a variety of audiences who need to understand your brand, and it’s critical that you spend time teaching them about your brand so they believe in it, are willing to pay for it, develop emotional connections to it, and feel compelled to talk to other people about it.

Again, brand identity guidelines are only a small part of brand education and only apply to certain audiences. For example, consumers don’t want to hear about your brand identity guidelines!

The social web offers huge opportunities for you to spread the word about your brand and educate diverse audiences about your brand promise, values, messages, and images. No longer are you tied to expensive advertising to tell the world about your brand. Today, you can publish blog posts, do interviews, publish videos, talk to people on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and more. You can clear up confusion quickly and stop fires before they spread out of control.

Keep in mind, brand education never ends. You can never assume that everyone knows your brand promise. Once you get arrogant, you open yourself up to attack from competitors. Remember, powerful brands are closely tied to consumer emotions. When you get complacent, consumers can feel like your brand has let them down.

Stay tuned for Part 5 of the How to Brand series where you’ll learn about how to develop emotional involvement in your brand through branded experiences that offer ongoing brand education as well as create vocal brand advocates.

If you missed earlier parts of the How to Brand series, follow the links below to read them now:

And stay tuned for the next post in the series: Part 5 - Brand experiences

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