Companies that dominate their marketplace have strong brand portfolios
But what should be included in one? Our guide explains how brand portfolios work.
Image by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash
Words by Dr Martin Douglas Hendry
In today's highly competitive marketplace, having a strong brand portfolio that includes trade marks, domain names and other brand collateral (e.g., social media accounts) is essential for good-sized businesses to succeed and grow on the global stage.
More broadly speaking, a brand portfolio is a collection of all the elements that make up a brand and sub-brands, such as logos, slogans, packaging, colours, names, domain names, and trademarks.
It represents the business's identity and values and how it is perceived by customers, and its current status (i.e., whether or not these brand assets are protected).
In this blog, we will discuss what should be included in a brand portfolio for businesses looking to grow.
Identifying and Assessing Your Existing Brand Assets
Before creating a brand portfolio, it is important to assess your current brand collateral.
This involves identifying your brand's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) to develop an effective brand portfolio.
You can use various tools and methods to identify areas for improvement, such as customer surveys, social media analytics and market research to evaluate your current branding efforts and key branding elements, which resonate with your buying public.
In doing so, you can begin to identify the key brand elements which resonate with your buying public and make you distinct and appealing in their eyes.
Ultimately, the aim here is to consolidate an IP into a portfolio of well-maintained brand assets - which have international appeal and can be strongly protected, enforced and commercialised.
Brand assets are the building blocks of a brand portfolio, and once identified can be effectively protected under UK law (and indeed, globally), in a proportionate way to their importance to the business.
These include your pre-existing trademarks, logos, slogans, designs, packaging, domain names, websites, online marketplace and social media accounts.
A trademark registration strategy is important here to protect and prioritize your brand assets from infringement and unauthorized use, as well as prepare them for licensing internationally, for example.
At this point, understanding and allocating a budget around the brand portfolio will put you in a position where you maintain and enforce the brand portfolio in proportion to the value it imparts to your business.
Notably, a brand portfolio is an asset which locks in the goodwill and reputation of your business and when managed wholly, it can effectively be extremely beneficial to the business – just ask Apple!
Creating a Brand Positioning Statement
A brand positioning statement is a concise and compelling statement that communicates your brand's unique selling proposition and promise to customers.
It is critical to a brand portfolio because it helps differentiate your brand from competitors and establishes your brand's core identity.
Your brand positioning statement should identify your target audience as well as your position within the wider marketplace in relation to competing offerings.
Ultimately, it only serves your business to ensure that you:
- Meet a commercially viable market need
- Differentiate yourself from competing offerings in a way which is compelling to the buying public
This may also be the case for any sub-brands, which themselves, may fall under the larger umbrella brand.
Understanding the positioning of your brand, its appeal to the wider public and the role of your existing brand assets in supporting that position - will help you ascertain your priorities in terms of:
- Protecting key brand assets should they require more attention
- Expanding and developing more brand assets where they are absent
- Which assets may not serve the overall brand positioning, and thus can be allowed to lapse
Establishing Brand Guidelines
Brand guidelines are a set of rules and guidelines that govern how your brand is presented to customers.
They include your brand voice, tone, and personality. Establishing brand guidelines is critical to a brand portfolio because it ensures consistency in branding and reinforces brand recognition.
Brand guidelines are key to maintaining brand consistency both internally, and externally - should the brand be licensed or made use of by third parties.
As above, awareness of the brand positioning and guidelines of use will help ensure that at any point a member of the buying public comes into contact with the brand; that it looks and feels the same way.
This is important, as the best brands rely on a sense of familiarity and fulfillment of a brand promise to establish repeat business.
Just think of how Coca-Cola or Apple look and feel, and the fact that the controlled use of their brand makes it easy for the buying public to recognise them and also return and enjoy their products.
The same goes for any business looking to consistently serve their clients and customers and draw them back in time and again.
Measuring and Analysing Brand Performance Metrics
Measuring and analysing brand performance metrics is important to assess the effectiveness of your branding efforts and identify areas for improvement. Brand performance metrics include brand awareness, loyalty, and equity.
You can use various tools and methods, such as surveys, focus groups, and social media analytics, to measure and analyse your brand performance metrics.
Measurement of brand performance is critical in ensuring that the brand is fulfilling its intention, both in terms of positioning (as above) but also in terms of affect.
Social listening and engagement with both existing and potential customers and clients can be helpful in guiding an established reputation around the brand which serves the business' commercial goals.
Remember, growing and shaping a brands' presence in the public is one thing, but it can only be achieved effectively if it is protected and malicious actors are effectively deterred from copying or masquerading as the brand.
What a Brand Portfolio May Include
A brand portfolio may include the following:
- Protected brand assets (registered as trade marks), including information as to where they are protected, and key dates (e.g. renewal dates etc.)
- Unprotected brand assets (which may, or may not then be sought to be protected later)
- Brand standards and guidelines, including: colours, fonts, brand presentation parameters and more
- Brand positioning statement
- Registered domains related to the brand (as well as any defensive registrations)
- Records of audits and adjustments to the brand portfolio over the course of time
Managing Your Brand Portfolio
Brand portfolio management involves ongoing management and maintenance of your brand portfolio, which includes your intellectual property, trade marks, and domain names. It includes brand audits, rationalization, gap analysis and expansion.
You need to regularly assess your brand portfolio to ensure it remains relevant and competitive in the marketplace, while also ensuring the proper use and protection of your key intellectual property, such as your trade marks and your domain names.
As above, this is an ongoing process that involves constant evaluation and maintenance of key assets, whilst forgoing those which no longer provide value to the brand commercially moving forward.
For an example of this, one might look at Coca-Cola's registered trade marks (current and previous) - and understand which have now lapsed and why they are no longer commercially critical.
Specialist brand protection solicitors are often an extremely helpful resource when it comes to building and maintaining a brand portfolio.
In conclusion, a strong brand portfolio that includes intellectual property, trade marks, and domain names is essential for good-sized businesses to succeed in today's competitive marketplace.
By assessing your current branding efforts, identifying and evaluating your brand assets, creating a brand positioning statement, developing your brand architecture, establishing guidelines and measuring brand performance metrics, you can create a strong and effective brand portfolio that will differentiate your brand from your competitors.
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