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Inward versus Outward Branding

With exposure to some of the traditional branding companies, I've noticed a problem with inward branding.

When you decide on a strategy to shape your company's image, you want the image to be one that resonates in the marketplace and ultimately yields profits. But what should your image be? How do you go about deciding what the image should be?

Some market strategy companies work with the management of the company to align the company's image with the management's personality. I recently interacted with a market strategy company on branding and found that they did a good job facilitating a dialog with the founders of the company. The founders enjoyed talking about themselves and envisioning the company's image reflecting their personalities.

Yet the bottom line is what will resonate with customers. If your strategists focus mostly on the company, rather than on the customers, you are dealing with The Uninformed Strategist. The branding such strategists recommend are unlikely to resonate in the marketplace or generate profits.

You're better off if the strategists do outward branding. Determine the image of the company by doing some solid market research and gaining a solid understanding of the problems prospective and existing customers face. Formulate your key messages using the approaches described in my article, "How to Formulate Marketing Messages".

Better yet, though, make your inward and outward branding converge. To be successful, the management and the rest of the company have to buy into the image and the branding. They have to live and breathe the customer experience. To be credible, your products must embody the key messages you communicate to the market.

Allow your strategist to build internal consensus for a market-driven brand. Then your inward and outward branding will be the same.

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