People who remember a company’s name are more likely to buy from it when they need a product or service it offers. However, many promotional campaigns feel as though they never gain enough traction to make an impact. How can you expect people to turn to your brand for a solution if they can’t even remember your name? How can you create a branding strategy that sticks?
Digital advertising is on the rise, but for the purposes of an overall branding strategy, it’s best to examine both online and offline promotions and why some things work better than others. Your industry can also dictate the ways you advertise. For example, if you run a business-to-business (B2B) company, your marketing will differ from how you’d promote a business-to-consumer (B2C) brand.
How Do You Create a Strong Branding Strategy?
At last count, the Small Business Administration estimates there are 33.2 million small companies in the United States alone. Not all of them are direct competitors, but they all clamor for the attention of a limited pool of consumers. Standing out in such a crowded field isn’t easy. You have to be at the top of your game every day.
It’s vital to know your niche and know it well. You must fully understand your audience and the message you want to put out as a business. At the same time, you must understand why you started your company and the underlying values that drive you to continue.
You can throw a lot of money at branding and marketing and see zero results. Ensure your strategy is solid by following these basic principles to ramp up your efforts and make sure what you’re doing works.
1. Know Your Audience
One of the first things you must do before sharing any information about your company is understand your target audience. What makes your customers tick? Take the time to study the demographics — age, gender, income — and psychographics. Look at the underlying emotions and issues driving someone to seek a product such as yours in the first place.
You’re likely aware of the more common ways of grabbing customer information, such as looking at your databases, studying Google analytics and testing on social media. You might also want to send out surveys, create buyer personas and see what your competitors are doing. Sometimes, you just need to use common sense to determine what drives your users. For example, if you sell car seats, you can assume people who buy them want to keep their children safe. Therefore, safety is a big selling point and should be part of your brand image. However, there are other issues parents might care about, too, such as a removable cover for cleaning, ease of installation and how long the seat can be used for their child
2. Be Bold
One of the best branding strategies you can adopt is to get your name out there and in people’s minds in various ways. Don’t be afraid to go on radio shows. Create displays people can’t walk away from, and use eye-popping colors. Team up with influencers who are a bit edgy.
Point-of-purchase (POP) displays can help with impulse buys if you sell a product in stores. POPs are most effective when they boost profits and increase your customer base. The only way to do that is through your messaging, which has to be on target with your brand philosophy.
Think about the unique value proposition (UVP) for your brand. Your UVP should be something your customers care about. For example, if you sell a beverage, they don’t care that you found a way to save money on the glass bottle. What they do care about is that you just saved them 10 cents a bottle and the price is reduced.
Your displays and UVP should always focus on how the product benefits the end user. That will encourage them to give your company a try.
3. Display Your Core Values
You must know yourself as a business before creating a memorable branding strategy. What do you stand for? Is there a cause you’re passionate about that ties into your company model? For example, Bombas donates a pair of socks to someone in need every time you buy a pair. TOMS shoes has a similar model.
You don’t have to give away products, but there must be some way you can positively impact the world while running your company. Perhaps you give your workers paid time off to volunteer for local causes. Maybe you start a wildlife reserve or adopt a green energy strategy.
Figure out what you care about and shout it to the world. Those who are like-minded will find you and support your cause and business.
4. Create a Style Guide
A style guide ensures your brand messaging is consistent. Your online and print ad logos should look the same in both places and be instantly recognizable because you use a specific standard.
Your style guide can encompass everything from the colors you use, where your logo appears, your tagline and even your brand personality. Lush has a fun, stick-to-natural products philosophy for its brand. No matter which of its stores you enter, or even if you shop online, you’ll encounter the same approachable atmosphere.
Lush has a brand personality that is young, hip and vibrant. It knows who it is and the types of products it wants to promote and doesn’t vary from this mindset. Follow its example to ensure a strong strategy.
5. Respond to the Negative
At some point, you’ll encounter a customer who isn’t very happy with your product or service. They may go online and trash you to everyone by writing bad reviews. How do you combat negative feedback so it doesn’t destroy your reputation?
One survey of 1,000 Americans over 18 years old found that about 50% of people wake up and check social media first thing. They won’t have a favorable impression of your company if what they see is people complaining about it.
You should respond to negative comments but remove all emotion from your responses. Instead, seek to find a solution. Inform the person you have messaged them to resolve their issue, or fix it and say you were glad to offer a solution and if they have any other issues to reach out to you.
People will see how you respond to complaints and may be more likely to remember you favorably. It’s reassuring to see that a company is invested in its customers and eager to find a solution to problems.
6. Match Content to Goals
Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals for your branding strategy. This acronym stands for:
Set goals for your branding strategy to make it easier to see what type of content you should publish to achieve them. For example, perhaps one of your objectives is to establish your heating duct cleaning company as the top authority on the benefits of regular duct system maintenance. You might write a series of articles about how important it is to regularly clean your ducts and maintain air quality.
You could create some videos of the process you use and add in some testimonial clips from happy customers who notice the difference. Share this content on social media to establish your knowledge in the area.
In addition, you might go on a local home improvement radio show and talk about why cleaning your ducts matters. All your content and messaging hones in on the image you want to present.
7. Track and Adjust
There is a reason why brand awareness is the top goal for most marketing professionals. Experts at Nielsen estimate marketing to be around 10%-35% of a brand’s equity. How well you implement your branding strategy impacts your business’s revenue and success.
You must track each campaign and see how well it works for your objectives. Create separate landing pages and use codes to see who is responding to what ads. Most companies run multiple campaigns on various platforms simultaneously, so it’s important to find ways to track how well you’ve done.
Once you get an idea of which campaigns work best to enhance your brand image and reach, repeat those. Lose the ones that don’t work. Over time, you’ll perfect your branding strategy and get the most impact from your budget possible.
Continue Making Ongoing Efforts
An excellent branding strategy requires ongoing effort to maintain. The image that works today may not cut it tomorrow as society shifts and changes. The pandemic taught everyone how quickly people’s priorities change.
During COVID-19 social distancing, many consumers focused almost exclusively on buying essentials and stockpiling for future emergencies. Brands that pivoted quickly and embraced the needs of their customers fared well.
If you want to gain and keep an excellent reputation, you must commit to working on it throughout the life of your company. Refer back to your core principles from time to time and tweak what you need to thrive. This will ensure your business’s success as times change.