The keys to marketing a brand are consistency and making an emotional connection. Your brand needs to be consistent so that it delivers the same message and customers feel you’re a company they can trust. The emotional connection includes the associations your brand makes in a customer’s mind.
A brand communicates emotionally when it makes the customer’s life easier, it makes them safer, it lets them be who they are, it’s part of their family, and so on. You establish this emotional connection by solving a specific problem your customer faces.
Note that we didn’t say you solve all of their problems. Not only is this impossible, but it’s also not ideal. Instead, you want to focus on one specific problem that you solve and that no one else solves in quite the way you do.
Integrating Your Brand Strategy
You should send a clear message both online and off and integrate all of your marketing channels. A good marketing strategy is interactive and engages the customer.
What does it mean to be ‘interactive?’ In today’s media landscape, consumers are no longer stuck with a few big marketing channels, such as TV and the newspaper. Today, people go out and find their own sources of news and information, including information on products and services they need.
To be interactive is to engage your customers wherever they’re looking for information. You do this by establishing a presence on social media, offering apps, engaging with your website, producing videos, and so on. The idea is to create as many potential touch points as possible with your audience, providing the information they need WHEN and WHERE they need it.
All of these marketing channels need to be integrated so they create a web that sends people back and forth to each. For example, television spots should include the URL or your website or a message that says, ‘Follow us on Twitter at…’ Your website should have links to all of your social media profiles and a call to action urging visitors to check them out. At every touch point, send customers to all of your other marketing channels.
All of this is backed up with strong SEO. People may encounter your brand but lose track of the name with all of the media noise around them. They’ll then search for you using a search engine or social media search. If you’ve targeted keywords well, your website or profile will come up in their search.
On social media, you need a real person to respond to comments, inquiries and questions. Rather than making it smoother and easier for you, automating your social media can actually cause harm. Some large companies have learned this the hard way when they gave customers laughable canned responses, which were then shared with thousands of others. Social media requires real human interaction.
The final element of an interactive strategy is to track analytics. If you can’t do sophisticated visitor behaviour tracking on your website, at the very least monitor behaviour using Google Analytics. A wealth of information can be found using this program to help you improve your strategy.
Aside from the most common brand marketing strategies, there are a few alternative tactics companies use to create an emotional connection. Attitude branding involves marketing a larger feeling that’s associated in the minds of your customers about your business. This feeling isn’t necessarily associated with your products or services. In fact, it may be totally irrelevant. It’s all about a particular feeling, lifestyle or personal identity.
Let’s consider Nike. The Nike brand is about much more than just shoes. To the company’s customers, the swoosh logo signifies the healthy, athletic and independent lifestyle inherent in the brand motto, ‘Just do it.’ The Nike brand epitomizes this attitude. Other major iconic brands such as Coca Cola and Apple do this too.
With attitude branding, your brand contributes to the consumer’s sense of identity and self-expression. By wearing Converse, I’m making a statement not just about what I like to wear, but about who I am.
Another alternative strategy many companies use recently is the branding of no-brand. What this means is that the brand is made conspicuous through the absence of a brand name. While it may sound counterintuitive to do this, the results can be very lucrative. An example where this worked particularly well was the company Yellow Cap of Venezuela, which made itself a popular brand through nothing but, as the name suggests, yellow caps.
Japanese brand Muji does the same thing. ‘Muji’ literally means, ‘no brand.’ By eschewing branding and flashy design, the company not only saves itself money on advertising, but also appeals to the segment of the population that goes for high quality and low price, and doesn’t care about brand name.
Word of Mouth
The absolute best brand marketing strategy is to focus on recommendations. There is no more powerful marketing than a close friend telling another close friend about your products. Studies have shown that this is more powerful than the best advertising. This is because it’s not coming from the company itself but from a trusted friend.
Today, when people are wary of being marketed to, and especially on social media where recommendations from friends are everything, it’s important for brands to focus on recommendations in their marketing strategies.
Name Is Everything
The most powerful aspect of a brand is the brand’s name. The name conveys a great deal of information. The best names are short and punchy, like Dell or Starbucks. This makes them easy to remember.
A great naming strategy is to use a nonsense word. You can then brand that word as your company’s name, and your company is the only association people will make with it. Just think of Yahoo, Pepsi and DreamWorks. These are invented words that are now associated exclusively with a brand. Google has even become a verb in common usage.
Be Flexible and Stay Current
Finally, your branding strategy should be flexible. Things are always in constant flux and that includes your market and its tastes. You need to listen and pay attention so that you can stay relevant to them.
A good example of this is Old Spice. The men’s cologne maker ramped up its branding strategy in recent years, making it slightly ironic and tongue-in-cheek to appeal to a younger generation…..and it worked.
Integrate your brand strategy. Send a clear message online and off and integrate all of your marketing channels. Use strong SEO, real people to connect (avoid automation in your customer service as much as possible) and track analytics.
Here’s a few questions you can think about that may help you with marketing your brand:
1. What specific customer problems are you looking to solve with your brand? Brainstorm on this.
2. Take a look at some good examples of marketing strategies and determine why they work so well.
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