When you think of popular brands, the first ones that come to mind are probably “Coke,” “Apple,” and “Nike.” While their branding is world-renowned, these companies didn’t get to where they are today without heavy promotion and brand awareness efforts. In order to maintain a competitive edge in a saturated market, it’s important to build a strong brand marketing strategy.
Brand vs. Brand Marketing
Let’s begin by distinguishing “brand” from “brand marketing.” While they may seem similar, there are two different functions at play.
A brand is a set of core values that a company develops through their interactions with target customers — it’s who you are. Brand marketing is used to convey these values to the market — it’s building brand awareness so that you can meet your tactical goals.
Defining Your Brand
To market a product or service, you first need to define your brand identity. This ultimately sets the foundation for your subsequent marketing efforts and strategies. Here are some essential points to cover when establishing your brand:
Ask the obvious questions. Who are you? Who are your customers and competitors? When you’ve defined in detail what your brand is all about and who your potential target market is, focus on pinpointing your brand position in relation to the competitors in your niche market. While these may seem like common or even corny questions, they’re probably the most crucial ones you’ll ever ask.
Shape your brand messaging. Remember that a single brand can have multiple messages adapted for various customer segments. A company that engages in B2B2C marketing will have different messages for its business customers as opposed to the end consumer. The key is to tap into the values of your audience accordingly.
Establish your brand guidelines. Develop a visual identity that accurately reflects your brand’s mission, values, goals, and character. Start with the logo: It’s the centerpiece of your brand, and will often set the tone for the rest of the branding visuals. A good logo can be localized to various markets and regions, if necessary, while still communicating the brand essence.
As you develop your branding guidelines, such as logo, font type, colors, and image sizes, keep it consistent with the look and feel across your marketing assets. This goes for assets that are digital and offline, as well as internal and external. Whether you’re producing a product sheet, video, press release, landing page, or FAQ page, every aspect of your communications should speak in the same visual language.
Building the Brand Marketing Strategy
Brand marketing has a huge number of benefits that a defined brand can capitalize on. However, the key goals are to stand out in commoditized markets, establish trust with customers, and create evangelists who will refer your business to others. Get started on building your strategy with the following tactics:
Develop a consumer PR strategy. Marketing focuses on increased revenue, while PR aims for positive reputation-building and brand awareness. They may be different, but their end goals are very closely intertwined. Mix marketing strategies and consumer PR tactics for the highest return on your investment (ROI), and make sure that your messaging is consistent to communicate the same vision.
Cultivate your social presence. These days, It’s almost impossible for a company to shape a solid brand strategy without including social media marketing. By spending only a few hours per week, over 91% of marketers have seen a giant increase in their brand visibility.
However, if you’re beginning from scratch or struggling to gain momentum, social media might be a daunting world to overtake. Luckily, there are strategic ways to tap into growth, starting with influencer marketing. This doesn’t just mean a celebrity pedaling your product — there are many different types of influencer marketing that you can use to support your marketing goal (minus the outrageous costs).
Do storytelling right. Storytelling uses a narrative to connect your brand to customers. There are a few easy ways to create a compelling narrative:
- Get customers involved in the brand storytelling process. Have them tell their own powerful stories — how has your product or service improved their lives? What are their experiences using your product? Appeal to customers rationally and emotionally by tying in human connection with your brand.
- Get customers invested in your product. Collect feedback by sending out an email survey or responding to social media comments, and take action to improve targeted products and marketing campaigns.
- Leverage the power of video. Consumers crave an experience. Compared to text-based content, visual storytelling presents information in a more digestible way, and in less time.
Share your brand story. Promote your values, lifestyle, and message through becoming a thought leader among your networks and audiences. Don’t just buy media space — insert yourself into those spaces. Whether it’s seeking out media opportunities, being a guest writer on blogs, or running podcasts and panels, it’s important that you actively put yourself out there to create business relationships and foster authority and trust.
Leverage paid media to increase brand reach. Paid ads, including display ads, native ads, search ads, and social media ads, are an excellent way for brands to get wide exposure to focused audiences. With advanced targeting and measurement tools, brand marketers can leverage various bid and placement strategies to get more from their PPC activities.
Inspire loyalty. Word-of-mouth marketing, including peer reviews and recommendations from friends and family, has been proven to be the most important trust-building factor for consumers. Having a loyal base of brand ambassadors is the most effective way of organically creating a sense of trust around your brand.
Facilitate customer feedback, reviews, and recommendations whenever possible. Respond with gratitude where appropriate, and address concerns or complaints in a timely, open, and meaningful way. No brand is perfect, but you can create trust by owning up to mistakes and working hard to rectify them.
Measure and track your brand process. With the majority of branding and marketing activities happening online, you’re ideally positioned to see the results of your efforts in real-time. This will help you monitor the success and sentiment surrounding your campaign and ensure you keep working to strengthen your brand.
There are a host of advanced measurement and tracking tools available for every kind of brand marketing activity. Social media measurement, website analytics, online mentions tracking, conversion tracking, and integrated CRM platforms can all help you monitor your brand process.
Lastly, think outside the box. Experiences, not products, are what make brands succeed. A prime example is Red Bull. Their brand consistently focuses on people’s desire to break boundaries, physical and mental. Who could ever forget Red Bull’s 2012 Stratos campaign? They literally hired a professional Austrian skydiver to perform a supersonic freefall from space. Of course Red Bull wants to sell energy drinks, but there’s no doubt that their brand stands for something (pun intended) a little more out of this world.
Let’s Be Real
Between mobile apps, social media, SMS, and email, consumers are exposed to upwards of 5,000 marketing messages every single day. With the staggering competition, it’s important for your brand can stand out from the rest.
Make sure your customers feel heard and understood. Create authentic experiences that last, not just products to consume for a fleeting moment. With a solid brand and brand marketing strategy, customers will want you in their lives.
Jaime is Head of Content Strategy at AdRoll, a division of NextRoll, Inc. She has 12 years' experience in content, social, and partner marketing, spanning from scrappy startups to the global enterprise. Jaime loves crafting content that actually gets used by customers and goes to bed dreaming about how content can change the world. An avid tennis player and Champagne Martini enthusiast, Jaime spends most of her spare time being the #1 dog mom to her chiweenie.