“Oh no – not another article on brand marketing”, I hear you say. Well here’s the thing – if your current marketing activity isn’t helping you build a better, stronger brand, you just might be wasting your precious time and money. A quick read through this post will help you review your approach to brand marketing.
Let’s start off with an example. You have just designed a wonderful home page on your website. It’s simple, user-friendly, warm and informative. So much so, the searcher (potential customer) is interested in engaging with you and clicks on your little chat link to ask you a question. So far – so good.
The message the searcher receives back, though, is a sales message and not exactly what they are looking for. The message then directs them to another contact page – to get more information / download a free infographic, oh, and they want credit card details for a trial!
If you’re like me, you’re well gone from that landing page (and probably that organisation). The point I’m making with this example is that there is always a risk of a disconnect between what people expect (because you’ve promised it to them) and what they might get when engaging with your brand.
There is a thread that connects all your customer touch-points and that thread is an emotional one. It is your organisation’s brand. Brand marketing, therefore, must be looked at from a human / emotional viewpoint, if it is to connect positively with customers or prospects.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”045oK” via=”no” ]The emotional thread that connects all your customer touchpoints is your organisation’s brand. It has to be marketed in a smart way.[/ctt]
Brand marketing can be considered powerful when a person’s experience of that brand is constantly positive. This can occur when encountering an organisation’s social media activity, their web page, a press ad, their staff or their service etc. Are you monitoring your engagements?
Of course, there is a danger that online visibility gets all the focus (and measurement), and as a consequence, some business owners (and marketers) can neglect the big picture – their brand marketing. This is not to suggest re-inventing the wheel – it’s just about being smarter about marketing your brand.
Elements of smarter marketing.
Smarter marketing is, for instance, understanding that your brand is NOT your logo, your tagline or your advertising. And that your brand IS the experience that people have while engaging with your organisation is what differentiates you from competitors.
Being smarter is also knowing that in this world of inbound marketing, the content your organisation produces is part of your brand and will remain so forever. Therefore, the voice, tone and message embedded in your content is extremely important.
For example, long after you’ve forgotten about a blog post, a reader might discover same and form an opinion based on the sentiment, structure and relevancy of your words.
Another thing about marketing smarts – your brand promise should also comprise everything that represents your organisation. What type of suppliers you have, your employees, your place of business, how you act and everything you say.
People’s perception of you is your real brand. Brands are a shortcut to help people break through a sea of choice and they mainly use shortcuts that they have had satisfaction with previously.
Finally, how you use your customer data is definitely an element of smarter marketing but it is worth remembering that as everybody has access to data, it still is your brand that remains a key differentiator.
Data is a useful tool for smarter marketing but as everybody has access to data, it still is your brand that remains a key differentiator.Click to tweet
Whatever your organisation’s size – brand marketing is important
The thing to remember about a brand, especially when building a brand from scratch, is that it has to be managed and maintained constantly. Size doesn’t matter.
The business objectives of quality, service and price need to be wrapped in a well thought out branding strategy. Where do you start out? By deciding where your organisation is going to fit in the marketplace you’ll be operating in.
The rest of your brand foundations are set when you determine what it is that makes you different and who your potential customers are. Answers to these questions will be guided by your values and principles – and then you’re good to go.
The main challenge you will then face, with regard to brand marketing, is consistency. This is even more pertinent now when social media activity is included in your marketing. Branding is inclusive of all channels that your organisation uses. Smarter branding is streamlining all your activity with a unified identity, appearance and approach to customer experience.
Use every opportunity you can to market your brand.
There are many good, and bad, examples of organisations using every occasion to promote their brand whenever, wherever they can. Mostly, it will cost something to have your identity promoted, but you should still be looking out for opportunities as/when they arise.
Here are six examples:
- Giveaways – if providing a customer experience, brand it e.g. coffee mug
- Apparel – perhaps staff that work with you could wear branded items
- Graphics – everything you publish should be branded, including online channels
- Email – it is very easy to include branding in your email signature
- Presentations – slide templates / and printed materials should have your branding
- Packaging – Bags, boxes, vehicles etc. are opportunities to promote your brand
I really like this graphic below. I came across it in an article on digital marketing by Marketing Labs in the UK. It shows examples of offline vs online branding tactics.
Brands are now in the relationship business.
The new norm of brand marketing is being a good listener. “Nothing new in that”, you might say. Now that the much relied upon method of broadcast communication (i.e. one-way discussions) is becoming less impactful, building relationships by listening first and then having a dialogue is the way forward.
Many agencies, such as our own, O’C&K, can offer social media strategies, content management, digital expertise etc. However, these will only be powerful brand marketing activities if based on customer insights, feedback and ongoing dialogue. Another way of listening is through influencers that operate within your line of business.
So, as a small business owner, let’s assume you don’t have the time and/or experience for marketing – what traits do you look for in an individual or outsource agency? We would suggest that the following traits are important in the business of building relationships:
– Listening Skills
– Customer Focused
– Story Teller
“A brand is not something you manage over time. It’s something you deliver in the moment”.
I came across this quote when doing research for this post. It was part of a very interesting article from the Harvard Business Review about building your brand as a relationship.
Tips for building brand recognition
As alluded to above, people are interacting with organisations in a plethora of new ways – usually facilitated by technology. Consistency is vital if people are going to remember your brand and what you can do for them. Here is a check-list for some online and offline touch-points that you could apply your branding to:
- Website / landing pages / blog (+ images) /online maps
- Social media (logo avatar + promos on cover pictures)
- Email newsletter / magazines / ebooks /downloads
- Online directories / infographics
- Advertisements / forums /groups
- Online agreements / contracts / invoices /receipts
- Print advertising / catalogues / brochures / flyers / posters
- Business stationary / packaging / labels
- Storefront /window merchandising / interiors (directional signage)
- Trade Shows / exhibitions stands / podiums
- Employee clothing / car stickers
- Sponsorship signage / promotional items / prizes
A simple recipe for brand marketing is to be unique, authentic and to consistently provide value. Of course, you need to manage your brand identity but concentrate on delivering the brand experience in real time.
Marketing in the modern age hasn’t become harder but business owners and marketers do have to be smarter about it. Brand marketing can be distracted by the many marketing specialists that have appeared in recent years, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
If you need to use an expert, make sure you choose the one that will deliver exactly what you require to grow your business.
“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.
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