The short-term and long-term success of your business is 5% awesome offerings and 95% solid go-to-market (GTM) strategy and execution. An important component of a solid GTM plan lay in the branding. A successful branding strategy will open doors for pipeline and customer loyalty.

"Branding is the vibe your company sends out into the world. You want it to be consistent and not confusing to your customers," says Mila Turtle, founder and principal of St. Petersburg, Florida-based marketing agency Turtle Moon Graphics. Helping her clients to get their branding on track, she follows the 5 W's to effectively brand a company and its products: Why, Who, What, Where, and When.

1. Why: "Answering why you started your company and created your products and/or services must be conveyed in your brand image," says Turtle. Don't make your answer about your company or products. Focus on why your customers should choose your business over that of the competition. Turtle looks at this first step as the proof customers need to feel confident that they are investing in the right product and company at the right time.

Your Action Plan:Work to get very specific on why your customers should do business with you. You will find the answers to that question by considering the following: What specific and urgent benefits do your customers get from your products or services that they cannot get through any other means? Why do they need to work with you? Is it your price or how you solve the problem better or faster? Why does it matter? "If you can prove to your costumer why they should be buying your product or using your service, you have successfully created your brand image," says Turtle.

2. Who: "Your brand is the personality of your company and should convey the tone, feel, look and experience your costumers will have," says Turtle. Consistency is key. Don't invite your customers to a casual hoedown when really you are planning a black-tie affair. Decide who you want your customers to say you are. Let that definition translate to the logo you create as well as the look, feel, and content in your marketing collateral, website, and social channels.

Your Action Plan:Create definitive brand image guidelines for approved language, colors, image library, and logo use in all company materials and channels. Turtle strongly recommends vigilance against maverick behavior. "No rogue marketing. A gatekeeper should be assigned to ensure consistency instead of brand-use schizophrenia," says Turtle.

3. What: "A logo and tagline should be used to describe what your company does that uniquely benefits your customers," says Turtle. Keep the value your customers derive from your business and your offering as the beacons that define your brand. Create logos and taglines that are memorable in the minds of customers. Turtle points to brands that have used logos and taglines to successfully express what benefits customers receive: Nike's swish logo and "Just Do It" tagline convey inspiration that using their products makes anything possible; and Allstate's "Your in good hands" tagline communicates comfort in times of distress.

Your Action Plan:Take the time to create a logo and select colors and fonts that visually represent your brand. Create a tagline that succinctly describes your value proposition. The goal is to depict how you want a client to feel and what you want a client to derive from your products or services. Use your network to select from your top three design and tagline picks. Make sure your logo and tagline can be used in multiple ways. "Sometimes the tagline is used as a slogan or word mark and can be used on it's own as an identifier of your company or a specific campaign," says Turtle.

4. Where: "Communicate where your company is and how your costumers can easily get in touch with you," says Turtle. She cautions against making clients work to find and contact you. This makes sense. The Internet and social media have created a very noisy world. Your competitors will make it easy for your target customers to do business with them. If you are hard to find and hard to contact, you will lose business.

Your Action Plan:Create an urgent call to action in your online and printed materials that urges immediate and direct interaction. Turtle suggests inviting customers to contact you immediately for a free consultation, a try-before-you-buy trial, or discounted offer that brings people to you and invites them to experience your brand first hand. "Your branding material should always provide a point of contact, a physically address location, website, and phone number," says Turtle.

5. When: "Keep your brand in front of your clients and customers. Don't let them forget who you are and what you can do for them," says Turtle. Her clients invest in promotional products for event and sales giveaways that people use daily such as pens, cellphone covers, and calendars. They also invest in branded customized employee incentives, gifts, and awards that inspire loyalty and pride. The more visibility your brand gets, the more hearts and minds you will imprint.

Your Action Plan:Turtle suggests the use of a variety of different print and digital marketing platforms including direct mail, print ads, email marketing, and social media postings. The best thing about marketing is that you can test and track which platforms and mechanism result in the best return. Turtle suggests a system to track ROI, optimum frequency and best channels to reach customers, build pipeline, and close deals. "Remember consistency in the look, feel and tone across all of your marketing platforms is essential! Custom logo promotional giveaways have staying power and are an effective way to stay in front of your clients and promote your brand on an ongoing basis," says Turtle.

Published on: Nov 9, 2015