You know how it goes, carrying out small talk with new acquaintances, and this question always comes up. “So what exactly do you do for a living?” When I tell them I’m a Corporate Branding Consultant, they’d give me the blank stare… So what exactly is a Corporate Branding Consultant, and what exactly do we do? Well, wonder no more…
Just What Exactly Is Corporate Branding Consultancy?
According to Wikipedia, a consultant is an individual who provides expert advice or services to clients on specific (sometimes highly specialised) fields. We’ve all heard of legal consultants, cybersecurity consultants, and even engineering consultants. But corporate branding consultant?… Do you even need a consultant for corporate branding?…
Actually, you do… It may come as a surprise, but the vast majority of corporations simply have no clue what branding is all about. Of course, once I rattle through some of common corporate practices on improving their corporate identities, then I’d start to see some nodding heads.
The problem is that many of them don’t even know what’s their identity in the first place. Let’s not even get started on projecting a specific identity to the masses. As a result, many corporations simply let their identity evolve naturally. But by doing so, you don’t get to choose and mould the exact message you want to tell your potential market.
You may be very good in what you do. But aside from your colleagues and your existing clients, not many others will even know that you exist at all. And if they don’t even know you exist, how would they know just how good you really are at what you do?
So What Does A Corporate Branding Consultant Do?
The objective of corporate branding is to elevate the identity and reputation of a company. However, being experts in their own fields, more often that not, they simply don’t know how to brand themselves properly. They may be very good at what they do. But more often than not, they simply don’t know just how to tell people just how good they really are. In short, they don’t know how to blow their own horn.
Enter the Corporate Branding Consultants, the people with the ability to look into the companies from outside, as well as to look out from within. They see exactly how outsiders are seeing the company, which insiders are normally blind to. And more importantly, they know what the masses want to see, and how to show them exactly what they want to see. They shape the identity of the companies into a favourable vision to be projected to the masses.
And that’s exactly what we do as a Corporate Branding Consultant.
What And How Exactly Do We Do All That?
Yes… I’m going to reveal the trade secret of what we actually do as a Corporate Branding Consultant. So stay tuned to find out more… The simplest explanation to what we do is that we sell ideas… That’s right, IDEAS!… But what we actually do is anything but simple…
(1) The Big Picture
Everything we do revolves around a big picture. It is this big picture that determines exactly which direction the branding direction should head towards. Coming up with this big picture is the most challenging job that we face. The thing is that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all secret formula that works for every industry, let alone each individual client that we service.
Everything else that’s described below is ultimately tied to adhering to the big picture. It is this big picture that determines the branding direction, and how to achieve your branding objective.
(2) Content Is King
The only guaranteed way to channel in traffic (whether web or physical) is to have plenty of relevant and interesting content. This means having a regular interval of publications. And no, we don’t mean having stories that advertises your services or products all the time. At least not to appear as directly pushing them onto your audience anyway.
Generally speaking, every business has a certain demographic that represents their target market. Knowing this exact target market, what they like and what they don’t, will help you fine-tune your contents. The more interesting your published contents are to your audience, the more likely they’ll continue to visit your website or your printed magazine.
And contrary to popular belief, having a beautiful corporate website (or printed magazine) won’t help to bring in traffic. Of course, invited guests will visit you as a sign of respect. But good luck in asking them to keep coming back for more. When your content publication stops, so does your visitor traffic. Remember, nobody will keep buying a magazine if every issue contains the same stories. Not even if you keep redecorating the magazine cover. In this regard, content is indeed king, not how beautiful your cover is.
(3) Search Engine Friendly / Search Ranking
This one specifically addresses the cyber presence. The higher your search ranking is, the more searchable your corporate website will be. Hence, you’d want to make your cyber presence as attractive as possible to the major search engines (read: Google).
Having a corporate website is one thing. But having a website that addresses everything that search engines are looking for is another thing altogether. A highly searchable website will increase your website’s visibility, hence increasing its traffic of visitors. And that directly relates to how well-known your brand will eventually appear to be.
(4) Social Media Is Now The World’s Largest Media
Having an active and dynamic corporate website is a good thing. But it’ll amount to nothing if nobody knows that you even exist. You’ll still need a spread your message out if you want to channel traffic in. And what better way to do this than to capitalise on the power of social media.
Social media today is equivalent to the traditional media of yesteryear. Gone are the heydays of television ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, billboards, etc. These days, the world’s local watering hole, where everybody is gathering at, is social media. And this is where news are exchanged, opinions expressed, gossips passed, and of course, advertising is aired.
Along with the rise of social media as the world’s local watering hole, so is the rise of a brand new method of effective advertising. Gone are the days where all you have to worry about is advertising production and media space buying. These days, ad production and media space can be handled in-house (if you know what you’re doing). You have more control within your grasp. Unfortunately for many, having more control doesn’t necessarily mean knowing what to do.
In simple terms, what we do here is social media marketing. We handle both the content production, as we’ll as spreading it out via social media, hence the marketing part.
(5) Matching The Physical Image To The One Online
Having a favourable online image is one thing. But it’ll result to nothing if your physical image doesn’t reflect on what your audience experienced with your online presence. And no, we’re not talking about whether your office building is pretty looking or not.
Whether you like or not, your frontline personnel (sales staff) is the face of the company. How they present themselves, and how they behave, will reflect on your organisation’s reputation. If your website shows well groomed, smiling and friendly faces, you’d better hope that your staff in the sales department looks and behaves exactly like that. You wouldn’t want to be accused of presenting a false image.
Everything from having a cohesive and attractive uniform, to being well groomed and well mannered. In this regard, everything and everybody counts. It’s nice if your spokesperson is all dressed up in a well fitted suit, well mannered, and is highly knowledgeable in your trade. But if just one of your sales people isn’t anything like your spokesperson, then it’ll all amount to nothing. Remember, your spokesperson cannot possibly be interacting with all of the members of your audience. And there’s no way to be sure that all of them will experience the same friendly service that is projected by your spokesperson.
(6) Uniformity Represents Consistency
Ultimately, you’d want your brand to be consistent in projecting your image and values to everybody that comes in contact with your business. You wouldn’t want two different persons report two different experience when dealing with your brand.
If you say you offer money-back-guarantee with no questions asked, then you’d better make sure that you honour that pledge. No questions asked, regardless who or what the situation is. But if you have terms and conditions attached to your warranty, then make sure that every case is treated in the same way. Again, regardless who or what the situation is. Remember, words spread like wildfire at the world’s local watering hole. And you’d want stories about your company that spreads in social media to collaborate exactly with what you say you’d do. Nothing says “unreliable” more than inconsistency.
(7) Educating The Client’s Management And Frontliners
Knowing what to do is one thing. But getting the client’s employees (and especially their bosses) to express it to the dot is a completely different story altogether. It’s easier to preach something from afar. But it’s much more difficult to get them to practise what they preach.
Hence educating our clients represents one of our biggest challenge, yet the most understated responsibility that we carry out.
Branding Consultancy Is More Than Just Selling A Service
Unlike selling a professional service (e.g. photography, video production, advertising campaign, etc.), being a branding consultant is much more abstract than all that. It’s about digging deep into the client’s corporate practice, understanding their culture, and knowing what makes them tick. But at the same time, it’s also about keeping them at an arm’s length, and seeing them from an external perspective. This is the image that they can’t see themselves, yet unknowingly project onto their audience. Knowing what they can do, and then matching that to what their target market wants, is the secret of what we do.
Call it matchmaking if you want. But knowing who and what to match with is the exactly what corporate branding consultancy is all about.