Branding has become one of those buzzwords that everyone uses but doesn’t really understand its true meaning and purpose. What is branding? Why do companies need it? This has been a big question so far.
Even without having much knowledge about the topic, many companies are trying to create their brands. Most of them fail. And the reason for those failures is not having a clear brand strategy. Even if you succeed at creating a brand, keeping it is another big challenge for you.
Source: Marketing Directo - "Colgate Kitchen Entrees"
Many people think that creating a brand means making a logo and designing a website. We can’t deny that these are very important components of a brand, but there are far more important things to consider. Only few companies accept that it’s a long process which requires patience, time, and hard work.
In this article, we will explain why companies need a brand strategy, will go through 8 steps of creating it and what channels to use. Besides, we’ll speak about some reasons why many companies fail.
- Why do you need a brand strategy?
- 8 Steps of creating a branding strategy
- Which channels to use for branding?
- Why do companies fail at branding?
Why do You Need a Brand Strategy?
When we think about the most successful brands like Uber, Samsung, Disney, and many others, we realize that these brands have come so far that they’ve become a part of their customers’ lives. This would’ve never happened if they didn’t have a working branding strategy.
So, if you want to learn more about the benefits, let’s directly get to the main points. After creating a strategy, your company will:
Have clear company objectives
You can’t become a successful brand if you don’t have your goals and objectives and don’t know where your company is heading to. Where was your company last year? Where is it now? Where will it be next year or after 2 years?
Moreover, your employees will be able to contribute to your company growth the right way by completing the tasks that support your strategy. Having clear objectives also helps to keep your loyal customers who will see the benefits of moving forward with your company and continue using your products/services.
Stand out from your competition
While developing your strategy, pay close attention to your competitors and their activities. Observe and analyze. Of course, there will be things that you have in common, and also things that you do in completely different ways.
Your brand strategy will give you an opportunity to stand out from your competition by defining who you are, what makes your company unique and your consistency throughout the different channels.
Optimize your marketing strategy accordingly
Once you’ve developed your brand identity and values, you need to find the ways for spreading a word about them and share with your audience. What else can be of help but an optimized marketing strategy?
With targeted marketing campaigns, you can attract high-quality leads and convert them into customers. And, if the level of their trust and happiness not only stays the same but also increases, they are likely to become the loyal customers of your brand.
Communicate with your customers more effectively
Having a branding strategy is not enough for success if your activities don’t match with it. This is particularly true for communicating with your customers. It’s crucial for your employees to follow all the requirements of your strategy while communicating with your customers.
Whether it’s a Customer Support Specialist or a Social Media Marketer, they must treat all the customers the way it’s written in your strategy and keep the same tone of voice. For example, if you have an excellent Support team which answers all the requests on time and leaves your customers fully satisfied, the same must be done throughout the social channels. Otherwise, your audience will have contradictory opinions about your brand.
Attract new talents and clients
Another advantage of having a branding strategy is attracting new talents and clients who share the same values as your brand. When you develop your brand in a certain direction, people will become interested in what you do and how you do it, thus they will want to join you and become a part of it.
Let’s take Apple as an example or other popular brands. So many people dream to work for them and have their contribution to such companies.
These were the main benefits of developing a brand strategy. As you can see, the positive impact of branding is worth spending your energy and resources on developing a clear strategy. Below you can find some actionable steps of creating an effective branding strategy.
8 Steps of Creating a Branding Strategy
Now, as you understand why you need branding, it’s time to start creating a strategy. Below are the most important steps in the branding strategy creation process. But, take into consideration that if you fail at one of these steps, it can be crucial for you and your brand. So, let’s see what are those steps:
Define your target audience/personas
If you’re new to the industry, ask yourself who your ideal customers are and how they depend on your product/service. Or, find and analyze your direct competitors. Analyze their products/services, their customers or users, and how people interact with their brand both online and offline.
In case you’re an established business, you have a chance to analyze your existing customers and clients. While conducting your analysis, divide your customers into segments according to their common patterns and motivations. This will help you understand which segment is more profitable to your business and try to attract more similar customers.
What does an ideal target audience look like? If your company sells grooming products for men, one of your ideal segments will be women between ages 20 and 45 who usually buy similar products for their sons, husbands, or boyfriends.
This is just one example of good research. You can do the same for your products/services. The more thorough your research is, the better. These are the people who may become your brand ambassadors.
Write your brand positioning statement
The brand positioning statement is the sentence which reflects what your brand offers, your target audience, and the benefits of your brand. For many brands, it’s a big challenge. But, if you really understand your brand and how you want it to be perceived by others, you can easily write it with the help of brainstorming.
The statement can be broken down into 3 parts: your target audience, the value provided by your brand, and its backup. So, ideally the positioning statement will look like this:
Renderforest is an all-in-one branding platform which provides people aged 18-50 with easy-to-use video and logo making online tools. More than 5 million videos and 50.000 logos have been created with Renderforest.
Once you define it, make sure that it fits your brand and think about how it will change within time as your company is growing. You can always get back to it and make it more precise and relatable to your brand.
Develop your brand identity
Most of us recognize the brands by their logos, or even their brand colors and messaging. It means that those brands have successfully developed their brand identities.
First of all, you need to conduct a brand audit to understand where your brand stands in the marketplace and among your competition. This will give you insights on how to proceed.
Then, depending on your brand positioning, you need to develop the creative elements of your brand - your Brand Style Guide.
When you increase your brand awareness and more people learn about the existence of your brand, your brand identity plays the leading part. If you hit the right audience and impress them, your brand will be remembered. You can increase your brand awareness both online and offline by using different channels.
Your brand identity is how people are going to recognize your brand. This is why it’s crucial to create an authentic one which reflects your values.
Brand = Association
Every brand is associated with some emotions and meanings. Let’s take the example of Apple and Microsoft. Here are some words associated with these brands:
While developing your brand identity, think for a moment about what associated meanings and words you want to connect with your brand. Then, research and develop the strategies you need to create those associations within your target audience. Those strategies include your messaging and content, the way you communicate with your audience, and what emotions they have after each interaction with your brand.
Some companies forget that the messaging is all about the consumers and solving their problems, not about their brand and how good they are. So, when companies always promote themselves and their products, this can create negative associations.
If you try and solve the problems of your audience, educate them and provide the necessary support, your brand will be associated with trust and professionalism.
Keep your brand consistency
Consistency builds trust. This is not just a statement. It’s a fact. Now imagine a person who constantly changes his attitude and style. One day he is all business, another day he is too casual and friendly, then he disappears and shows up after a week. Can you trust this person and do business with him?
The same goes for your business. If you’re constantly changing and are very unpredictable, people won’t trust you and your company. So, consistency is crucial. But how to maintain it?
Keeping your brand consistency directly depends on effective teamwork. It doesn’t matter how many people are involved in the activities, each of them must know your brand values and how to communicate them on various channels. All team members must have access to your brand style guide and learn how to use your branding materials while creating any kind of content.
Source: Bright Communication
Always find the time to monitor this process and improve it if necessary. This will keep you from sending mixed signals to your audience and will help you stay consistent.
Maintain positive relationships with your customers
It’s a known fact that retaining your existing customers is more affordable than converting new ones. This is why it is important to establish and keep positive relationships with your customers. Client-facing team members must have exceptional communication skills because everything depends on how they deliver the necessary information and messages.
One of the best ways to keep your customers satisfied is exceeding their expectations. When you know your customers and what problems they have, you can not only solve them but also deliver it in a way that it makes them feel good and special.
Make your employees your brand ambassadors
Happy and satisfied employees are as valuable to the company as the customers. Most of the companies spend all their time and resources on their customers and forget how important their employees are.
What makes your employees happy? Learn more about them and what kind of activities they like. Organize team-building events which will help to shape your company culture. According to studies, the employees who actively engaged in different activities at work were 87% less likely to leave their company.
Why do you need all of this? Well, because your employees can become your brand ambassadors and help to increase your brand awareness, especially with the help of social media. When your employees share different photos and videos mentioning your company on social platforms, your customers can have an inside look at what happens there and how fun it is to be a part of your company.
The same way, the employees who are not happy and content with your company, can give negative feedback and affect your brand. So, if you don’t have a company culture and employee engagement programs, it’s the right time to start developing them.
An interesting example of co-branding is the partnership of Uber and Spotify. These 2 brands collaborated to create an exclusive experience for their customers. Check out the video below.
Co-branding is the partnership between two brands which is an effective way to reach new markets and increase brand awareness. Think about what companies you can collaborate to create an unusual product or feature which is beneficial for the customers and is a win-win for everyone. This is not a mandatory step, but it can add some points to your brand credibility.
Like Jeff Bezos said:
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”
Having a brand strategy is essential for every company. Follow the above-mentioned steps to create and adjust your strategy. Understand your purpose and create your brand to get the perks of an established brand.
Which Channels to Use for Branding?
Before getting to the channels, let’s look at the example of one of the most famous brands - Coca-Cola. It’s literary everywhere. When we look around, there are so many people on the streets with Coca-Cola cans or bottles, not to speak of the posters and banners at every corner. When you get home and turn on your TV, you see a Coca-Cola advertisement, so on and so forth.
What can we assume from this example? This brand has become an inseparable part of our lives. The same goes for other famous brands like Apple, Nike, KFC, and others. So, we can learn from the big brands that you can’t create a brand by solely creating an online or offline presence. You need a combination of everything. Your brand must be visible to your target audience everywhere.
When thinking about your brand, first of all, you need to find out where you can find your target audience and how you can become a part of their lives. There are two ways to reach your audience: offline and online. And, when you combine your online and offline strategies, you get a consistent customer experience.
How to reach your customers offline? Here are some options:
- Create business cards, branded merchandise, and print materials,
- Get coverage from journalists
- Take part in offline events, seminars, networking activities, trade shows
- Sponsor an event
- Guerilla marketing
For online branding, there are far more tools and opportunities compared with the offline. Besides, it’s easier to reach your target audience with the help of smart strategies. These strategies are not limited to having a website and a Facebook page like most companies think.
Yes, it’s important to have a website where your potential customers will get acquainted with your products or services. You can also set up an online shop for their convenience. In case of social media channels, you need to make sure that your messages reach your target audience.
Instead of making a website and waiting for your customers to flow, or aimlessly posting your messages on a certain social media platform without getting any positive results, stop for a moment and think about changing your online marketing strategy.
What can you do to promote your brand online? Here are some effective ways:
- Educate your audience: create a blog to share useful and informative content. This will identify your company as a professional and competent brand.
- Create an online community which will later bring loyal customers. To do this, you can use social platforms. Use every opportunity to communicate with your audience and build strong relationships with them.
- Build trust: happy and content customers are key to your brand success. Ask your customers to review your company and use those testimonials to build trust among your potential customers.
People usually to trust each other more than brands. So, another way to build your brand is using influencer marketing. Collaborate with people who have active follower base on different platforms who trust them.
Source: Social Media Today
So, every time the influencers post something about your brand, your message will be spread across their followers. This will increase your brand awareness and bring you more customers.
Online or offline? Always choose both, a combined strategy to keep your brand consistency across all channels. Test your strategy and adjust it. And, always remember to keep your target audience in mind.
Why do Companies Fail at Branding?
What can I do to avoid failure? This is what most of the companies think about. You just need to admit that you won’t succeed without trying and, if you try, you can’t avoid failure.
In reality, everything is more simple than it seems to be. Below are some reasons why most of the companies fail:
- They don’t have a long-term vision which is a huge mistake.
- Their brand identity and message are not in sync.
- Wrong target audience which doesn’t use their products/services.
- No defined positioning in the market.
- They are ignoring their customers’ needs.
- Failing to deal with unexpected problems they can’t control.
These reasons will make you think twice while bringing your branding strategy into action. Besides, if your strategy fails, you always have an opportunity to analyze what went wrong, improve your strategy and start all over.
It’s hard to build a brand, but very easy to ruin it. Building a strong brand needs a good strategy which will lead you to success. Read the above-mentioned steps for creating an effective strategy and start implementing them while creating yours. Keep your online and offline marketing strategies in sync to stay consistent and build trust in your audience.
Your logo is a part of your brand which appears almost everywhere online and offline. You can create one with the help of online logo maker tools. Would you like to try?