Building a brand

Mike WilkinsonOnce upon a time you’d see a name of a product or company and that would be enough to make you book a room, visit a restaurant or buy a product.

Today we are so much wiser, well networked and have access to a range of broad opinions on performance and customer satisfaction.

A brand still holds the key to success and the route to that successful brand is one the tourist board and a specialist brand developer are currently exploring.

Following these important steps, could help you uncover your brand and help focus your tourism business:

Exploration – Be honest and look closely at your own business, fully explore your strengths and weaknesses, research other similar businesses and the opinions of your customers (and potential customers). A specialist brand developer is likely to conduct a 360 degree exploration of your brand, to uncover brutal truths and emerging trends but will then help you work out exactly where your brand could go.

Tip: You may be able to do this yourself but a specialist, without a personal investment in your company, will inevitably provide a more candid and ultimately more useful evaluation.

Visioning – Once you know where you are heading it’s time to create a clear, concise and easily understandable
brand vision. A useful dictionary definition explains it as ‘a mental image of what the future will or could be like’ or, for this purpose, being able to ‘see’ the best possible future for your business; what you’ll be doing, who you’ll be doing it with, who in your team will deliver your activities and even how you want your customers to feel. But, most importantly, it should be a vision that you, your colleagues and staff can really ‘own’. After all, they need to buy into that vision in order to articulate it persuasively, even passionately.

Tip: Create a ‘brand team’ from staff throughout your business to input into the process. They will become ambassadors for the vision and will help secure ‘buy in’.

Alignment – Finally your new brand must be embedded throughout your business and that’s not just about logos on stationary and signage. If part of your brand vision is to be ‘green’, your brand needs to be evident in your linen and soap, your locally grown food or robust energy policy. Each time you veer ‘off brand’ you weaken the power of your message. The whole business must deliver the promises it has made in the brand vision for it to succeed and for you to reap the benefits.

Tip: Write the vision on the wall where all staff are reminded of the promises you have made to your customers.

Mike Wilkinson is the chief executive of the Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board