Those times are long gone when branding was just about creating a symbol or font as a logo to represent your company. The question is, what is brand marketing today?
“The brand is very important because it is the first touchpoint, the first exposure that a potential buyer, a potential partner, a potential influencer has with your brand and with your company,” – Munto.
The importance of brand marketing has been gaining increasing importance over the years due to one sole reason; it creates an identity for a business and this brings about a number of advantages.
However, businesses can only maximise their revenue if they use branding constructively. Failing to create a clear identity can cause more harm to a business’s reputation rather than benefiting it. This guideline will help you build a successful branding strategy for your business.
Why marketing your brand is important
- It grows the value of a company
Marketing your brand should is an investment and not an expense. The problem with this is that small and medium-sized businesses with fewer resources skimp on this in an attempt to reduce costs. In the long run, however, they will have to work harder to gain customer loyalty and establish a brand reputation.
Marketing your brand creates the intangible asset we know as ‘brand equity’. While it doesn’t directly contribute to sales, it increases a firm’s market value.
“A brand is no different than any other business asset.” – BMB
If you need the motivation to start investing in brand marketing, think of it this way. A machine in a factory that produces goods is an asset. If you don’t invest in the machine, you will generate less revenue. Branding is similar to this machine.
- It significantly impacts B2B Marketing
Ever heard of the concept white labelling? It occurs when a company or freelancer creates a product, but the said product is sold under another label. Let’s take Walmart as an example. Many vendors sell their products under Walmart’s name. What they’re doing here is creating a name for Walmart and not themselves.
While these arrangements are profitable for vendors, they need to keep in mind that they are not building a brand identity for themselves because Walmart could hire anyone to create the same products. Thus they are getting less value out of them. Without a brand, they would be losing out on a relationship with customers, and thus, customer loyalty.
- It builds customer loyalty
We all have at least one ad that is stuck inside our head despite not wanting it to be. Such ads, annoying as they may be, prompt us to take immediate action. This works for products that seem attractive but do not live up to the hype. It’s what marketers call direct response marketing. What it does is that it gets the customer to buy the product at the time, but it creates little brand equity since the product is not as promised in most cases.
On the other hand, marketing through some forms of advertising
Apple’s advertisement has led to no direct sales, but instead, the company has built a strong relationship with its customers. How? Because customers bought the phone without the need for persuasion, with full knowledge of the facts so it is likely that they were satisfied with it.
According to statistics, a loyal customer is worth 10 times more than a single purchase. With that being said, brand marketing will benefit you more in the long run.
Creating a Brand Marketing strategy
A good strategy requires consistency and commitment. The goal is to build a strategy that aligns with your business’s goals. Create a long term plan through these steps:
- Develop a vision statement
Don’t skip this step because a good vision statement helps your customers understand your goal. Take Nike for example. Its vision is to provide inspiration and innovation to every athlete. The vision of TED, on the other hand, is simply to spread ideas.
What happens, in the long run, is that customers begin to identify your brand through your vision statement. If you hear the phrase, ‘Just do it’ anywhere, you’ll automatically associate it with Nike, even if it has nothing to do with the company! This is an example of how strongly people recognise Nike’s trademark and thus, shows the power of brand marketing.
- Establish your target audience
No matter how much you want it, you can’t target everybody. Every product or service in an industry has a specific group of people that it is made for. To identify who these people are, you’ll need the help of your firm’s Research & Development department.
First, identify your general target audience. If you’re selling baby clothes, your target audience isn’t toddlers but parents aged 20-40. Once you’ve clarified this, divide your target audience into smaller segments. Target hip hop and funky designs towards younger parents and subtle designs at older parents. You could also target parents based on their shopping habits, likes or any other psychographic/demographic characteristic. The more specifically you target, the stronger the relationship you are likely to create.
- Show your customers consistency
Without consistency, brand marketing wouldn’t be complete. A brand needs to carry out repeated marketing so that over time a brand identity is imprinted onto customers’ minds. Let’s test this theory out. What do you think of when you see this picture of fries?
I bet you thought McDonald’s. The brand has carried out constant marketing throughout decades which is why anyone will instantly think of McDonald’s when they see a red and yellow symbol.
To create consistency, you can use the internet to help you out. Create brand awareness and brand trust online. Fortunately, since the world has moved towards technology, this has become much easier. Design tools like LucidPress help in creating consistent production of content. Moreover, you can use branded links to bridge the gap between you and your customers. By using branded links, you’re attaching your company’s name everywhere, thus creating consistency. As an added bonus, branded links are more credible, enhance your link’s appearance and help to improve your website’s search rankings.
- Make sure your products live up to the hype
Like I mentioned earlier, direct response marketing fails to create brand equity because the products are not as promised. If that is the case, brand marketing is not possible, so make sure your product follows through. Here’s how:
- Product quality: If you think using lower product quality will make customers come back more often, think again. Low product quality will leave a negative impression of the brand on your customers, which leads to negative word-of-mouth. Good product quality, on the other hand, will lead to a positive brand image of your company, thus meaning you have successfully carried out brand marketing.
- Customer service: No one is perfect. That means your products will have some sort of defect from time to time – whether it is faulty machinery, bad quality, damaged items etc. If you go above and beyond with customer service, your customers will remain loyal to you. Departmental stores like Nordstorm provide great customer service which is why the brand has become so popular in the US.
- Build an emotional connection with your customers
If you are successful at this, you can be Number 1 in your industry. Creating an emotional connection is the hardest, yet most effective brand marketing strategy. There’s a lot of creative ways to do this, and it has become really important since consumers are so involved in the buying process.
Let’s take a look at Airbnb. It is one of the leading brands in the industry all because of the way it conducts its business. Airbnb tells inspiring stories of its hosts through which it creates a bond between potential customers and Airbnb hosts; thus, easing customers into the buying process.
Here’s the story of Carol:
Carol had lived in Manhattan for 34 years of her life and then lost her job, but she still loved to host people through Airbnb. Heartwarming stories through videos create a personal touch and are exactly the reason behind this company’s success.
Implementing your brand strategy
- Brand positioning
You need to break away from all that clutter and noise. Whichever industry you’re in, make sure your brand is the first name that pops up in the mind of customers when they need a service or product. There are two ways through which this can be done:
- Quality positioning
Most customers are willing to pay more for better services/products. However, brands have caught on to that so most of them sell based on quality positioning. Try selling based upon feature benefits:
Based on quality, Google will rank businesses that have a 4 star and above rating.
- Problem/solution positioning
This is a more personalised approach. It focuses on highlighting a customer’s problem and finding a solution to it. By focusing on each individual customer and helping them with a unique problem, a brand can prove to be different from other firms.
- Customer-generated content
It’s one thing when you tell people your brand is good. It’s completely another when customers recommend it. Statistics show that 75% of people don’t believe adverts, yet 90% trust suggestions from family and friends and 70% trust consumer reviews. So basically, customers are willing to believe strangers when it comes to product reviews. Since buyers have such a major influence in the purchasing process, you need to make sure customer-generated content about your brand is positive.
- Create a personality for your brand
Part of creating a bard identity is setting yourself apart from the competition. Create a personality that customers recognise and associate your brand with. This is crucial in industries where a lot of businesses sell similar products. Display this personality throughout your marketing i.e. your website, email campaigns, texting campaigns, PPC campaigns and organic marketing.
Unilever’s personal care brand Dove launched this beautiful campaign that featured women of all skin types and body sizes. Not only does this send a unique message, but it also sets the company apart from competitors by breaking stereotypes and catering to each and every woman.
Ask yourself, what is brand marketing for your business? It will consist of not one but a number of elements. To sum it all up, you need to create a unique identity for your business (keeping in mind your audience) that sets you apart from other brands. Over the years, this asset will bring about customer loyalty and brand recognition.