Branding has a significant impact on how the intended audience receives your project. Go off-brand? Prepare to alienate loyal customers, but stay on brand? Build momentum and perceived value instantly with your loyal audience and tap into new audience members as you go.
It’s easy to see why some project managers might think branding has no impact on their project delivery, but they’d be wrong. Branding isn’t just about branded colors, logos, fonts and tone of voice. It’s about building something worth following, whether it’s a brand that stands for something or a brand known for quality, a brand that always delivers.
When you think about fantastic branding, who do you think of? Apple might be high up on your list — regardless of whether you’re a Mac lover or a Windows user. They’ve built a community brimming with creatives and tech adopters. Apple builds devices like no other brand; their designs are immaculate and recognizable immediately. And every time a new iPhone comes out, there’s a queue around the block.
Project managers need to work on branding for many reasons, but here are eight of the most important ones.
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Delivering projects isn’t just about meeting targets; there should be a focus on providing business value. When you’re creating and delivering a new project, it’s easy to get carried away and let the creative energy flow. But you need to reign it in a bit and think about the true value your project could bring to the business.
Your project isn’t just a standalone endeavour; it should play a part in delivering good on your overarching brand strategy. Why? Because if you float off in a completely different direction, your brand identity is watered down, your loyal followers become confused, and you no longer attract those who once followed you so faithfully.
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Acquiring new customers is expensive. We all know that, but here’s a statistic to prove it — according to eConsultancy, a massive 82% of companies agree that retention is cheaper than acquisition.
Remember all that groundwork you laid with your loyal audience? Building your brand and learning all about them, delivering what they want? Yeah, you have to start from the top of the funnel all over again with new customers — which is great. The more new customers, the better, but when you’re delivering a project, you need to make sure you don’t alienate all your existing customers — they’re the “low hanging fruit” as it were.
But what results could better customer retention really deliver? A study conducted by Bain & Company found increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increased profits by 25% to 95%. If that’s not enough to make you consider a retention-first approach to project management, we don’t know what is.
With many of the same team members working across multiple projects all at once, separating projects can be challenging. That’s where creating a project brand can help. Not only will your team members have a clear understanding of each project separately, but your specific project will stand out head and shoulders above other projects lacking a brand.
Creating a separate brand name or tagline helps team members and stakeholders understand what the project aims are. It also helps position and differentiate the company in the competitive marketplace.
Having a brand for each project can ensure every member of your project management team works alongside the same vision for the project. Without a clear structure, objectives aren’t met, and project impact suffers.
Regardless of what you’re selling — branding can elevate any project. Focusing on the value your customers will get from your product rather than its functionality will automatically interest more people. People want to know how it can help them specifically, and droning on about your software or product’s inner workings is a big no-no.
Branding is much more than logos and fonts, as we’ve already alluded to, but they play a large part in the project life cycle’s initial process. Without a catchy tagline and a value proposition that offers, well, value, the project is flat.
Knowing what you stand for, your values, and who you’re talking to means you’re able to pinpoint what is and isn’t acceptable for your project. This means better internal organization and communication. Team members also understand what is and isn’t acceptable for the brand. It becomes easier to make quicker decisions as you know more about who you’re evolving into as a brand.
Ultimately, knowing more about what your organization stands for means more cohesive and better project management.
According to Vivendi, 77% of brands could disappear, and no one could care, *wipes tear away*. It’s a shame, but stats like this should be a wake-up call for your organization. You need to focus on delivering all your projects on brand. Build a brand that is known and cared for by its audience. Build a brand that stands for something incredible. 56% of customers stay loyal to brands that “get them” — so invest in your audience and find out what matters to them.
Take Ben & Jerry’s as an example. They have three values that centre around economic, social and product missions. They not only want to deliver exceptional ice cream products, but they care about the positive impact their brand can have on the wider community. Employees have cited the company’s social mission as one reason they’ve continued to work for them.
Their audience is made up of people with similar beliefs and values. And these values are the veins running through all their marketing channels — social media, TV advertising, website, live chat support, PR, etc. Consistency is crucial for branding, so you need to make sure you’re following through in each project to reinforce your position in the marketplace.
Audience analysis is key to delivering on a brand and keeping that brand up-to-date. Consumer behaviour can change with the wind, so it’s essential you invest in this kind of analysis. Building brand loyalty with sturdy core values can be risky, but it’s a risk that pays off for so many and can help you build lifelong relationships with loyal customers.
If you’re known for something, chances are, customers are willing to pay top dollar for it.
If you build a brand recognized for, let’s say, high-quality coffee, like Starbucks, you can charge through the roof for a basic coffee. Carrying around that Starbucks mug tells others you like fancy coffee — and that you’re willing to pay over the odds to get it. If you create a brand known for high-quality jeans like Levis, you can charge more because customers like wearing the label that says “Levis”. You get the picture.
Ensuring brand values remain central to your project delivery means you can add hype around each of your projects. Every time you deliver a project on brand, your audience learns a little more about your company.
They start to recognize the colors you use, your fonts, your terminology, your values, your tone of voice. They become familiar with you over time. The more you focus on building credibility and delivering authentic experiences, the more your audience will view you as an expert in your field.
Many elements contribute to a successful project, and brand guidelines can help you tie your story together. Project branding gives your organization a platform to tell everyone about you, from start to finish — it helps you transform the complex into simplistic. There’s nothing worse than a business that’s hard to understand, but you can change this by telling your brand story.
Use your self-built platform to talk about how your brand is different from others, what values you hold dear to you, and how your brand is the best fit for your target audience. A narrative helps your audience connect with your company on a personal level — get ready to bare your organization’s soul.
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If you take away anything from this piece, remember:
- Take risks with your brand and stand for something important
- Project objectives and KPIs are necessary, but thinking about the bigger picture is crucial in project management
- A powerful brand can increase customer loyalty, recognition and evoke emotion amongst its audience — use it wisely
- And lastly, branding allows you to elevate your company to a much higher, well-respected level amongst stakeholders and customers
8 Reasons Why Project Managers Need to Work on Branding /p>