Submitted by: Kerri Goldsmith

On March 1st, members and guests of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association learned how to take a brand beyond the logo and “walk the talk.” Christine Wright-Isak, Ph.D. shared her insights about branding and how to apply strategies for ourselves, our businesses and our clients.

Dr. Wright-Isak is a marketing and branding consultant and a Professor of Marketing at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Lutgert College of Business. Her experience includes work at Young & Rubicam and on well-known brands such as Hanes, Champion, and Colgate.

When branding a professional public relations practice, Dr. Wright-Isak recommends doing so for yourself as an individual, too. Consider the what, why, when and how?

 WHAT is branding? It’s many things… a name, color, logo, marquee, music tag, reputation, history, relationship, commitment and reassurance. Consumers are overloaded with decisions each day, and trustworthy brands facilitate decisions.

 WHY is branding important? In addition to facilitating consumer decisions, it can make your area of expertise or your values clear. Sometimes others don’t know you as you want to be known. If you don’t clearly communicate what you and your firm are about, your competitors will. Consider branding a practice cost that is an investment, not just overhead.

 WHEN and HOW should branding be implemented? It can be done incrementally, as time and budget allow. Once you identify what makes you unique and valued, focus on intangible brand aspects, especially those that connect strongly to the user’s values. For example, Disney’s brand is all about the magic of childhood. Each initiative is branded with a consistent look and message. Live your values. A journal is a great way to reinforce doing just that.

Some strategic steps to follow for any size brand would include:

  •  Inventory perceptions of what your brand means to others. Recognize all constituents.
  •  Research what promise you can keep well. Define it for all constituents and get feedback.
  •  Communicate that promise clearly and then keep it with your actions.
  •  Position to differentiate yourself from perceived alternatives. Consistently express your point of difference in all communications.
  •  Engage specific, strategic defined audiences.
  •  Continue to “make deposits” through improvements, public relations to educate constituents, promotions to add value, and advertising to create/clarify the meaning of your brand.
  •  Maintain your brand power by “minimizing withdrawals’. Brand reputational equity accrues influence leverage, is a platform for reputation management during troubled times, and builds a stockpile of trustworthiness.

“Prepare for your own surprising future, and then it will come to you.”