If you have been thinking about brand marketing and how it’s done, then you’re going to want to pause what you’re doing, find a comfortable place without distractions, and read this post.
In the next few minutes, we’re going to be talking about how you can market your brand effectively and the wrong assumptions about brand marketing. First, we’re going to have an overview of what a brand is. Next, we’re going to talk about the strategic perspectives of branding. Next, we’ll discuss how to manage brand value. After that, we’ll talk about strategic branding. Next, we’ll look at branding assessment. Finally, we’re going to wrap up by looking at the strategic brand audit.
Okay, sit back and relax as I take you on a journey on brand marketing. I assure you that the journey is going to be an educational one. You’re not just going to enjoy it, you’re going to learn everything you need to market your brand.
Let’s get to it.
A Brand is Not…
When some people think about a brand the first thing that comes to their mind is a logo, mission statement, slogan, products or services, trademark, and advertisement.
But the truth is none of these things mentioned above is a brand. And yet most startups pay such attention to them. They get so busy with logo design, crafting mission statements, slogans, and advertisements that they forget to give attention to those things that truly make up a brand.
Are logo, mission statements, trademarks, slogans, products and services not part of a brand? They are but the fewer fractions.
A Brand is
I know you’ve been wondering what brand is since I have said that brand is not a logo, slogan, mission statement, trade market, and advertisement. Yes, it’s not! I didn’t make a mistake.
People take branding to be a selected marketing activity. But it’s not. It’s actually a strategic point of view. Branding goes far beyond image creation and sound bites. Its focal point is creating customer value.
Branding helps you as a business to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Branding is both art and science. In fact, brands are gradually becoming an ideology.
A brand is no different from a person. Brand possesses a physical body – the products and services that it offers. It has a name, reputation, personality, and character. Just like you have affection for a person, you love, like, and respect a brand.
Also, the way you have best friends and acquaintances, you can see a brand the same way. It has all the characteristics of a person. You can think of it as the one you can depend on, as one who is caring, or one who is heartless. We all have certain people we’d like to be around. The same is applicable to brands. There are certain brands that we want to hear from and have dealings with.
Just like a person grows into maturity, a brand has to also mature and upgrade its product. But its character and core value are not expected to change.
Why Are Brands in Trouble?
Brands are in trouble because they have let images become their focal point. They have taken these images to be the brand identity. But I would like to say this ‘images are not the actual answer, they’re just part of the equation.
A brand is an asset that can not be perceived by the senses. It lives in the hearts and minds of people. You must make a promise, communicate your promise, keep your promise, and strengthen your promise to build a build.
Strategic Perspective of Branding
We live in a world where almost everything is mass-produced. Millions if not billions of students graduate from college. During their stay in college, they all learnt the same thing. They all possess the same skills, they end up being employed by similar companies. Each company imitates the other. No one is really doing something different. The same way we also have many brands having similar mission statements, ideology, character, marketing contents, and the same claims.
If You Don’t Stand For Something You’ll Fall For Anything!
Your personality as a brand is very vital. You need to understand that people don’t buy products or pay for services, they buy and pay for the personality associated with the brand. Some products are equal in quality but not equal in personality. For example, there are a lot of clothing companies that have equal quality with Nike, but they can’t compete in the market with Nike because Nike doesn’t just have quality, they also have a personality that differentiates them from other brands. And that personality is what makes a lot of people keep going to them.
Your brand personality can help your customers define their own concept and show their identities to other people.
Managing Brand Value
A lot of people have to believe that a change of company name or logo is branding. And this is where they get it all wrong. This assumption has cost a lot of business so much. Because after the change of name and logo, they still end up not really achieving any positive result.
Also, people tend to mistake corporate branding for corporate identity.
The corporate identity is more suitable for businesses that are into logo and brand name creation, T-shirt, letterhead, and interior design. But it’s important to note that brand name and logo is considered the least important when dealing with corporate branding. The most important thing is what your name stands for. And the customers distrust what you have been able to overcome. If there’s one thing you’d strive for as a business, it’s to overcome your customer’s distrust and get them to trust you. Trust helps convert casual customers into loyal customers and brand advocates and promoters. It also helps to retain them for a very long time.
If there’s a way you want your business to be perceived by your prospects, leads, and customers, then you have to align every other thing to fit into the desired brand identity.
You have to find out if the business strategy and the execution plan is favourable to the desired identity. If it’s favourable then the desired brand identity may be right. Although, this is not the only factor to consider. There are numerous other factors to consider. But if it’s not favourable you may not achieve your desired brand identity until everything fits in together.
You could also use your brand desired identity as an end goal.
Strategic Branding Process
Brand Strategy Development
Brand building has become more difficult and resources consuming. This is so because of the advent of social media and technology. Buyers now have enough marketing messages at their fingertips. So some of the strategies that worked in the past don’t work again. The bar is constantly raised. In today’s digital landscape building a brand is not dependent solely on the marketing and brand managers. If everything is left for the brand and marketing managers chances are it’ll fail. Everyone in the company has to be involved from strategy development to implementation.
In this part of the post, we’ll be talking about the process of cross-functional planning effort.
Considering the increase in bar in brand building, you have to apply an entirely new method to brand building for you to be able to bridge the gap. You need an integrated cross-functional method that incorporates deep customer insights and segmentation, and customer experience design capacity to build a brand.
Branding a Business Process
Branding is not just planned but it’s strategically focused and incorporated in all the organisation. In fact, branding is a business process. Branding gives direction, clarity of purpose, and energy for your business. No matter how awesome a strategy is, if not communicated constantly and effectively, chances are that it’s going to fail. Whether your brand survives the test of time or not depends on your customer’s experience design. Because how your business is interpreted and expressed is solely dependent on customer experience design.
Communication also helps to bring your brand alive. The aim of communication is to reach out with a consistent voice that displays your culture, which your customers can experience. And it doesn’t really matter if this communication is formal or informal. What really matters is the consistency in your message.
It’s important for your message to be as clear as possible. So it can be understood by your prospects, leads, and customers. And it’s also expected that everyone in your business will live up to your brand promise. Everyone living up to the expectation of your brand here means everyone walking and the reflection of your brand.
But in order to get everyone to begin walking, talking of your brand reflection you must have a reward system to encourage and keep them motivated. Once they’re motivated they will always look out for better ways to best push your brand in the right direction.
Brand Strategy Development
I should like to say this before we proceed ‘branding isn’t the result of planning, rather it’s the beginning point. Having said that, let’s now look at a few brand strategy development requirements.
Your first requirement is to have a well-written business strategy outlining the views of the scale and scope of the business and how you intend to compete.
Your second requirement is to have a deep insight into your customers and knowledge of evolving business economics. For you to gain this knowledge and insight you have to examine the evolving nature of different target segments and their profitability.
The third and final requirement is to determine the role of branding as seen by your cooperation and that will help you shape many strategic decisions during the development process.
Strategic Branding Assessment
Brand assessment is important because it’s a self-diagnostic tool that lets you quickly check the strength of your brand. The result that you’ll get from this assessment will provide you with an insight into your overall brand strength. And it’ll also help you think of other better strategies that you can bring to life. It’s vital to note that this is not a time to examine product functions and features. Instead, it’s time to solely consider those factors that affect the intangible values of your products, prospects, leads, and customers. You have to make a provision for a questionnaire and a scoring guide at the end of your questionnaire.
Strategic Branding Audit
An audit is a very essential part of business. It’s vital because it enables you to understand what your brand stands for and the value your brand brings to the table for both those outside (customers) and those inside (company).
In this part of the post, we’ll be discussing a simple but yet and effective method that you can use to analyse your brand performance.
Branding audit has three parts
The first part of the audit has to do with your brand specific situation analysis and a detailed description of your marketing input.
The second part of your brand audit is about the full description of how your prospects, leads, and customers think about your brand.
The third and final part of your brand audit is analysis. This is the stage where you compare the data you got from part one and part two of your brand audit to see if it meets what you have hoped and planned for. That way you’ll know which strategy that’s yielding results and which is not yielding, what you can adjust, and the ones you’ll have to let go.