There are many companies that will create a brand image for you. They’ll develop a logo, a slogan, and perhaps packaging for your product or service. They might even obtain third-party endorsements. All of these are developed before the launch, but a successful brand image is based on reputation.

Here are a few critical areas requiring attention before and after the launch to build a successful brand image:

  1. Product and Package Appearance: Brand image is all about the sensations associated with the brand – what people see and hear and experience, and their emotional response to the brand. Everything about the packaging should communicate the attributes of what you want the brand image to be. Is it a sense of security, speed, durability, romance, or fun? Likewise, the product itself has to look like what it’s going to do. Ideally, the chief attributes of the brand are conveyed in its brand image.
  1. Brand and Product Portrayal: Its setting in posters, on the label, in ads and in the media, all need to be in sync with the product’s attributes. If it’s a sports car, it wants to be on the open road hugging the curves.
  1. Message Delivery: How will people discover the brand image you are trying to convey? It may be through TV, showroom, retail shelf, clothing rack, word of mouth, or online. Your brand image may be different depending on the delivery system.
  1. Perception: Regardless of what you attempted to convey about your brand image, the general public will develop some of its own ideas. Avis launched an ad campaign years ago that resonated beautifully with the general public. It used the slogan, “We’re number two. We try harderto build the image in the minds of the general public that Avis employees had good reasons to try harder, and that whatever company was #1 was resting on its laurels.
  1. Ethos: In these days of transparency whatever your company stands for will be reflected in its brand image. Does your company have an image of making life better? Of saving or hurting the planet? Many companies go to great pains to project a brand image of being ethical and responsible, but negative press about ways in which the products are produced weaken it. And then lots of work has to be done to repair the brand image. BP, for example, has redone its logo to strengthen its brand image.

You can pay big bucks to create a logo, a slogan, and maybe even packaging as part of your brand image before you launch, but, in my experience, the heavy lifting on brand image occurs after the brand is launched, and continues as long as it remains in the marketplace.

Of course, there’s much more that could be said on this subject. What’s been your experience? Michael Houlihan, co-founder of Barefoot Wine, the largest selling wine brand in the nation, invites you to join the discussion on Brand Image by offering your comments, thoughts, and opinions below.