Many project managers prefer not to talk about branding. They see branding as logos and slogans or just as something aimed toward selling only. The truth is that branding is much more than that. Branding can affect the whole lifecycle of the project, from the stage of planning to launch, and to delivery. Your branding can determine the success of your project, its support, and acceptance.
A brand is a value proposition prepared in a relevant form, which is able to increase loyalty among the target audience. When talking about project management, the target audience includes such important people as stakeholders. The whole life of the project depends on how responsible and engaged are sponsors, team members, executives, etc. A proper brand can help you increase support among these people and tell an engaging story so that others will be interested in the success of your project.
Why Does a Project Brand Impact All Aspects of the Project Life Cycle
According to research by MIT Sloan,
project branding consists of five stages that relate to certain stages of the project life cycle
The pitch should allow decision-makers to understand what are the main goals of the project or why there’s a need for such a project. If the decision makers don’t understand why there’s a need for this project, they will not be interested in what it actually is. Without having a strong brand, the idea can die even before it gets a chance to grow because it won’t attract the necessary resources.
The stage of planning implies setting clear goals, assigning responsibilities, estimating possible risks, and creating an effective communication strategy so that you can deliver the right message to the right audience at a right time. This is where authenticity and a good brand are especially important.
The platform is a set of activities that include the official launch. At this stage, the success of branding depends on whether the initiative is adopted by the whole organization, not just the team members and decision-makers.
This stage follows the official launch and includes progress reporting. Communication is especially important at this stage, as any information vacuum may be quickly used by people with competing interests. The company should demonstrate that it can deliver on its promises, in order to maintain the reputation of the brand.
At this stage, you get an opportunity to improve and solidify the perception of the project brand, keeping the team engaged.
Why Do Project Managers Need to Brand Their Projects?
1. Creating Recognition
When we see a logo of Coca-Cola or Google, we immediately recognize the image which evokes certain feelings and associations.
2. Providing a platform
Branding allows you to tell your project story. Many projects are too complex to describe them in a few words, and branding makes this task easier.
3. Justifying investments
When a product has a strong brand, it costs more because it’s perceived as a product that is worth more money. Actually, this is the main reason why people are willing to pay $4 for Starbucks coffee instead of buying coffee for $1.50.
In many organizations, people are working on several projects at the same time. Quite often, they also have to compete for resources. A strong brand can make your project stand out.
How Project Managers Should Brand Their Projects
1. Create a realistic schedule
The branding process involves many people and takes some time. You should be able to coordinate activities and to manage time, especially given the number of people who may participate in the decision-making process. It’s better to plan everything in advance, taking into account unexpected delays or other problems.
2. You need a good name
Branding styles and nicknames are things that can contribute value. You don’t need a long name, and if you have one, make a shorter version that will sound natural when speaking. Obviously, you don’t need names longer than one word.
3. Assign responsibilities
Not only does project branding involve many people, but also people with different roles. Everyone should be able to make a contribution, however, you should also make it clear who is responsible for decision-making, and who is not. You can create a table with various decisions and people responsible for them.
4. Choose a decent logo
You don’t need to be an expert in design to create the very first logo, however, it should be related to your brand identity. It’s much easier to change the logo in the future, than the name. It can be a simple static logo. When brainstorming on the ideas for the logo, keep in mind that it will be on social media, business cards, and other things.
5. Plan your budget
First, you should think of what collateral should be updated, it will make planning the budget much easier. Write down a list of everything related to communication with clients and your brand voice, including music that plays when you hold the line. You should also take into account the rollout. Branding is important but it will be useless if the brand won’t be able to make a good start.
Every project in a portfolio of any company has its status and reputation. This is the project brand, and it is very important from the strategic point of view. The brand of your project should deliver the message about its value and goals. A proper brand helps your project get the necessary support and increases loyalty, making an impact on all the stages of the project life cycle.
Berta Melder is an experienced brand manager, currently associated with Masterra
as a content marketing strategist. Also, she cooperates with different education courses covering a broad range of digital topics as a guest lecturer on a part-time basis. Follow her on Twitter.