We could say that the most important thing about a product is its quality. However, although that may be true in some form, we still have to take note of other factors that could play a role in its success.
After all, even the most famous brands have to heavily promote themselves, no matter how great their products are. In fact, we cannot say for certain that brands like Coca-Cola or Apple would be as valuable as they are had they not invested time, money and effort into brand positioning and marketing. Brand awareness matters too – we cannot just rely on quality.
Nevertheless, before we use marketing to our advantage, we first have to know what a brand really is. Contrary to popular belief, a brand is not just a combination of some fancy font, a company name and a logo. It’s not just a visual reminder, but a whole lot more than that.
What is a brand?
The birth of branding takes us back to the US and the second half of the 18th century. Back then, branding referred to cattle markings. In essence, cattle ranchers had a heated branding iron that they used to mark their livestock as their own.
Manufacturers used that technique to start marking their own packaged goods as well. Why? Well, it was essentially the only way to set their products apart from their competitors’. Nevertheless, branding was still quite one-dimensional and not that elegant back then. In fact, it was rudimentary when compared to today’s branding.
Today, the markets are oversaturated, which means that just marking our goods won’t do. We have to do more — we have to tap into our creativity. Thus, a brand is not just something we use to distinguish ourselves. It is an intangible, complex term that represents core company values. What’s more, it includes the company’s services, products, culture, goals and visions.
Reflecting the company’s identity
In order to identify our brand, we ought to think about the image that we are presenting in the world. Take Coca-Cola as an example. Most of their commercials feature happy groups of people who are just having a good time and drinking Coke.
That is a genuinely smart move by Coca-Cola, as they are using special moments and warm and festive colours (red) to associate their brand with positivity and happiness. In essence, they are inspiring others to feel happy as well, thus attracting more customers by the minute.
If we want to make a good first impression on our prospects, we ought to do the following:
- Determine what our goals are
- Make sure we know what our target audience wants and needs
- Set ourselves apart from our competition
- Build the brand personality
- Come up with an effective brand message.
So what is brand marketing then?
The main goal of brand marketing is to boost brand awareness and make the brand visible. Furthermore, brand marketing is vital if we want to help our brand gain recognition.
However, we cannot say that brand marketing consists of just advertising and promotion. After all, there are a huge number of products, brands, services and companies on the market. Thus, the choices are practically endless, and we cannot know for sure if the customers are making rational purchasing decisions.
Hence, emotions play a huge role when it comes to customer behaviour, and companies know that. They rely on those emotions when developing their marketing strategies. In essence, they try to make the brand as personal, human and relatable as possible.
Still, in order to win over customers, we need to make them understand what the mission of the brand is. They need to know the core values, benefits and features of the said brand. For that, brand marketing is of the essence, as it ties everything in with the brand and gets it closer to the target audience.
But is it easy to build a relationship with the target audience? Well, the digital age has taken over. Now we have access to various social media platforms and communication channels. However, it’s difficult to engage the audience, as our competitors are using the same tools as we are.
Thus, the right brand marketing strategy is of the utmost importance for any brand. Nevertheless, companies choose different approaches according to what works for them.
How to build a strong brand marketing strategy
A good brand marketing strategy will benefit us in many ways. First of all, we will get a chance to use advertisements to the fullest. Furthermore, we will rely on social media channels, PR and marketing to give our brand some genuine recognisable characteristics.
After all, the whole point of having this strategy is to help our brand grow via a series of set goals. As such, it should show our branding efforts and help us engage our target audience, as well as build long lasting relationships with our consumers.
Here are the key elements that will make our brand marketing strategy a total success:
1. Target audience
If we don’t identify who our target audience is, we won’t get very far, no matter how much time, money and effort we invest in marketing. But how will we determine who to target?
Social media networks can help us with this task, as we can research our customers’ preferences. Thus, we will know why and when they are buying things, which is an essential factor that will help us fine-tune our strategy.
However, we cannot win over everyone. Trying to do so will only prove to be counterproductive. Why? It’s because our customers will think that we don’t really appreciate them nor understand what they want and need.
In order to develop loyalty and trust, we ought to be consistent with our interactions. Furthermore, we also need to pay attention to all the visual aspects of our company. Brand tone, message, aesthetics and logo – everything needs to tie in together nicely and form a good image.
A good way of boosting brand recognition is using colours as reminders. According to a study by the University of Loyola, we can hope for an up to 80% boost if we use colours.
However, we also need to pay attention to our brand message. It needs to be coherent and a reflection of our core values. Thus, each post or photo has to be in line with what we believe in. What’s more, our brand voice has to be unique yet recognisable if we want to engage our audience.
One of the best examples of consistency is definitely Nike and its – “Just do it.” It represents the company’s can-do attitude across all of their campaigns and branding efforts. Thus, it generates positive results, which have contributed to Nike’s popularity in the past.
As we’ve already mentioned, emotions play a crucial role when it comes to customer behaviour. Because of that, most brands try to make their products seem like must-haves. They essentially use emotional branding so as to attract as many followers as possible.
We can see that in Apple, for example. Whenever a new iPhone is about to drop, customers stand in queues, sometimes even for days. But why? It’s just a phone, after all.
But you see, it’s not just a smartphone. iPhone has an emotional value that its fans are craving, especially the younger ones. When they have one, they’re cool and members of an exclusive club.
By having an iPhone, people tend to feel less lonely. They connect better with others and they belong to a group, or they rather feel like they belong to it. Thus, the benefits Apple provides them with are not just related to phones. The brand also promises to make their lives easier, more fun and, in a way, better.
We’ve talked about consistency, but now we want to point in a different direction. Although brands have to be consistent, they also have to be flexible and ready to change.
It all comes down to the latest trends. If we don’t change and follow the trends, then we risk losing customers. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we have to change our brand voice or destroy our brand core values. No – it’s just about tweaking some aspects of our brand. Like plastic surgery, for example.
These changes don’t have to change our brand completely. Their point is to change little things that will make the brand a bit more modern and appealing to those who create and those who follow the trends. Thus, a fresh approach is never a bad thing, as it can lead to keeping our current customers and getting new ones as well.
According to some data, a 5% boost in retention can easily lead to our profit growing by 25%. Hence, it’s safe to say that loyal customers are our greatest assets and we ought to use them to the fullest.
But how will we do that? Well, methods are abundant, but sometimes it’s even good to go the easy route. A simple “thank you” letter with their name on it will do the job just fine.
However, if we really want to keep them by our side, we ought to give them something more tangible. Thus, giveaways are always a good option, as they can really do wonders. What’s more, there are plenty of giveaways that won’t cost that much, so investing in them won’t really break our marketing budget. The important thing is that they pay off.
Think about it – it’s always a nice gesture to give someone something for free. It could be anything – promotional pens, printed notebooks, T-shirts, USB drives. But what’s great is that each of those items can show the customers that we care.
Still, for the biggest and the most important clients, we need to make a bigger investment. For them, leather journals, branded Bluetooth speakers and other similar items could be the right choice. We could even give them a prepaid Visa gift card – that would surely dazzle them, not to mention inspire them to talk about our brand and remain loyal to us.
If we want to boost our brand awareness and visibility, we ought to think of a good brand-positioning strategy. However, there are various choices, depending on what we want to emphasise. Here are the strategies we can choose from:
This strategy is usually combined with another approach, as most brands will say that their products are of exceptional quality. Thus, it’s very difficult to stand out among our competitors. We should choose to focus on the quality but include another factor as well, as that will bring about more benefits to the consumers.
Problem and solution positioning
One of the best strategies entails identifying pain points (problems) in our customers and then offering them a solution. In essence, with this kind of positioning, we are telling the customers that their problems will disappear if they use our products. What’s more, we’re playing with their emotions a little bit so as to help them see how we can eliminate every concern they might have.
Another great way to position a brand within the market is to use a celebrity to promote it. However, we must choose a household name that will reflect the core values of the brand. Only then will we be able to gain the most important thing – audience’s trust.
It’s needless to say that this strategy is not cheap at all. Nevertheless, it makes use of the familiarity and reputation of the star in question. Moreover, it links the brand to someone who everyone knows and loves. As such, it most definitely pays off in the end.
In order to build a successful brand, we have to pay attention to brand marketing. Ultimately, we must develop a data-backed, detailed strategy so as to reach all our goals.